Thoughts on Obama’s Veto of Keystone XL

NC Mountains

President Obama has vetoed the Keystone XL bill that he received from Congress, one of only three times he has used his presidential veto (for comparison, President Reagan used his a record 78 times). We are elated about this decision. Keystone XL involves building a pipeline from Canada to Mexico, where tar sands oil, the dirtiest in the world, would be shipped across the globe. While arguments for it have centered around its economic benefits, in fact only 50 permanent jobs would result from the project. Furthermore, the pipeline would cut across…

Register for 2015 Legislative Seminar — Updated with Workshops and Presenters


Join us on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary for the Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar. Held every two years, the Seminar equips people of faith with the information they need to be advocates on issues before the NC General Assembly. Registration with workshop options is below. The cost is $15 for students, $25 for all others, and that includes a light breakfast underwritten by Partners in Health and Wholeness, and a boxed lunch prepared by the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Catering with a Cause.  Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m; the Rev. Dr….

A Guide to the Christian Food Movement


In these opening years of the twenty-first century, the need for a more sustainable food system has increasingly become a focus of our national conversation. As a Christian, sometime in the last decade I began to wonder: How can we re-imagine food systems in a way that more clearly reflects God’s reign? Where are the Christians working for a better food system, and how can I join them? Are there existing Christian food projects that I could replicate or adapt in my context? I lived with these questions for a…

Doomed UNC Centers Sang the Wrong Songs

Poverty level line graph

It’s easy to imagine what the conservative Republicans who rule North Carolina’s legislative roost were thinking: “Here we’ve gone to all the trouble to take control of the General Assembly. We appoint the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors. We set the system’s budget. “So why should we have to put up with the jibes of an impudent Democrat law professor who uses his university job to accuse us of ignoring poverty? What do he and his liberal pals know about putting more money in poor people’s pockets?…

A Note from PHW’s New Director

Monica -- Smaller

Growing up in a household where one of my parents is a community activist and the other is a teacher, my brother and I were strongly encouraged to use our talents and skills to be a catalyst for change — not just a recipient of change. Further, as a quadruple minority originally from a rural community and a humble-income family, I have a personal understanding of the ongoing challenges folks face every day — just to be healthy. Therefore, this work is near and dear to my heart. Faith communities…

NC Alliance for Health Releases New Poll


The NC Alliance for Health recently released poll results that show 70% of North Carolina voters are in support of funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative to improve access to healthy food.  The NC Alliance for Health, “is an independent, statewide coalition advocating for policies that promote wellness and reduce the impact of obesity and tobacco.”  Below are some excerpts of the NC Alliance for Health’s announcement. The NC Alliance for Health also issued a news release highlighting the poll results. Copies of the executive summary of the poll and a summary brochure are…

Elon Come to the Table – Inclement Weather Update


RAFI has posted information on its website about pending weather decisions for the Come to the Table Ecumenical Service on Wednesday evening and all-day conference on Thursday, both in Elon. Please also keep an eye on our website for updates about the conference and service. Whether to proceed with the worship service will be decided by noon on Wednesday in accordance with the host church, and the conference will be decided by Wednesday at 10 p.m. We hope that these events will be able to proceed but we also recognize the…

What Does it Mean to Wear Ashes in Protest?

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent. In liturgical churches, it begins with a vivid reminder of death. As the words “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” are spoken, Christians are marked on their foreheads with ashes in the shape of the cross. This year in Mexico, many Christians used this remembrance of death to remember and protest the loss of 43 students who were kidnapped, murdered, and then had their bodies burned in a garbage dump and their ashes dumped in…

Time to Uphold UNC’s Anti-Poverty Mission

Photo from the Office of Governor Patrick

One can say this about UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gene Nichol without fear of contradiction: He doesn’t seem to know when to keep his mouth shut or his keyboard quiet. Good for him! Throughout his years in North Carolina, Nichol from his law professor’s perch has been a pugnacious crusader on behalf of the state’s social and economic underdogs. And when it comes to criticizing the governmental chiefs whose conservative policies have hurt those underdogs’ interests, Nichol hasn’t been shy about calling them out – even when it became obvious that the…

Snow Days?


This week has been full of weather disruptions.  From school cancellations, missed Ash Wednesday services, to business closings, this has been a week of changed plans.  So, here are a few ideas to help you get through any upcoming snow days and the continuing winter weather. Healthy snack alternatives You may crave hot chocolate when you come in from the cold weather, or just want something warm to drink. I constantly want to drink something warm in the winter, so I have started drinking hot water with lemon or orange…

Compassion Makes Good ‘Cents’ — It’s Affordable


Our faiths call us to work for justice and show compassion for the “least of these.”  Justice issues can also make such good economic sense that we cannot afford not to be compassionate. Such is the case with extending Medicaid to close the coverage gap and provide health insurance for all citizens in North Carolina. Dr.  Margaret E Sowerwine, a Rocky Mount physician, shares information she prepared for business leaders on the economic argument for closing the health care gap in NC. As Christians, the economic advantage is a bonus….

Gene Nichol Won’t Let Us Ignore Poverty


Gene Nichol was the recipient of the Council’s 2013 Faith Active in Public Life Award. (To see his keynote address at our 2013 Legislative Seminar, “It’s Better Not to Be Poor in North Carolina,” click here.) Gene’s upbringing and education in Catholic circles have led him to a special concern for the most vulnerable people in our midst. Gene is a law professor, former UNC Law dean, and the director of the Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, an important part of the work of the UNC Law School. His…

Commentary About Torture Report Published

barbed wire

People of faith with Council connections have spoken out strongly on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture, calling for transparency. In particular, two recent opinion pieces call on Senator Richard Burr, now chair of the committee, to lead in releasing the full report. A guest column by NC Stop Torture Now’s Christina Cowger and Gary Gloster, the retired Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of NC, ran in the Winston-Salem Journal. It read in part: Only truth will allow us to stand tall and honestly proclaim our respect for human rights. Not secrecy,…

Grading the Schools: The Poverty Link

school bus

The scheme ordered up by the conservatives who hold power in the NC General Assembly to assign a single letter grade to each of the state’s public schools – ostensibly as a quality signal so simple that even a caveman could get it – has proved, well, unhelpful. Given the way the grades were figured, it’s hardly a surprise to find that schools where most of the students come from relatively well-off families scored on average pretty well. To find schools that rated A’s, just look in the upper-middle class…