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…

Which Christmas Will We Embrace in NC?


Now that Epiphany is over, we are looking back on Advent and Christmas, and remembering our celebrations — special time with family, special foods or gifts.  An article in the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s winter newsletter entitled “For Which Christmas Are You Preparing” by Rev. Ellie Stock, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, St. Louis, Missouri, led me to reflect on my warm-fuzzy memories in relation to questions she raises. In terms of the real celebration God wants for Christmas, have I missed the boat?  Rev. Stock describes our three Christmas celebrations: The first is…

The Ruling on Same-Gender Marriage

Wedding rings

The immediate impact of the most recent court decisions regarding marriage is that same-gender couples who want to get married in North Carolina now can, clergy who want to perform such ceremonies may, and same-gender couples who were married in other states now have those marriages recognized here. It is important to note that nothing in any way compels clergy to perform such ceremonies if doing so violates their own beliefs or the teachings of their denomination. That last point is important because the case out of which this decision…

From Broken Communities to Beloved Communities


The recent trial of Alamance County Sheriff Andrew Johnson has focused on alleged profiling abuses against Latinos. He is accused of detaining and arresting Latino drivers without probable cause. During the Winston-Salem-based trial, two retired supervising deputies testified that Johnson told officers not to give Latino drivers traffic citations but instead to take them to jail. The charges stem from the 287(g) program, implemented in 2007, which extends limited federal immigration powers to local officials, including performing background checks and beginning deportation procedures. The government revoked that agreement in 2012, and the…

Gushee, Powery, Cowger Discussion Marks Torture Awareness Month


June is Torture Awareness Month, and we are gearing up for a presentation by David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and the Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. The event takes place on June 24 at 7 p.m. at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. Joining Dr. Gushee are Rev. Luke Powery, Dean of Chapel and Associate Professor of the Practice of Homiletics at Duke University, and Dr. Christina Cowger, Coordinator for North Carolina Stop Torture Now. Dr. Gushee served on a blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee…

Lutherans Sponsor Conference to Ponder Justice and Faith


When the line to check in at a church-sponsored conference on a beautiful Saturday morning in April stretches out the door, it’s a sign that the event has generated an impressive level of buzz. For the North Carolina Lutherans, their faith partners and other friends who turned out in strength on April 12, those more predictable Saturday pursuits of grass-mowing, grocery shopping and golf would just have to wait. The event at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Raleigh had an ambitious theme: “Navigating Public Policy Issues Guided by a Moral…

Please Call Senator Burr

A vote is imminent on releasing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on torture, and we need you to contact Sen. Richard Burr and urge him to support the release. North Carolina people of faith signed a letter last summer urging the Senator to do just that. Progress has been slow, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Committee, has announced that she plans to hold a vote this week (March 24-29). And so there is urgency in reaching out to Sen. Burr, who is one of 15…

Faithful Activism — Part 2


In an earlier blog, I noted a congregation’s questions about becoming a partner with HKonJ. If you haven’t seen that blog, please click here. It contains information that will be relevant to what follows and addresses the question of whether such participation would threaten a non-profit’s tax status. In addition to the question about tax-exempt status raised within the congregation, a second question was about the separation of church and state. This broader church-state question may be harder to explain than the tax-exempt question, but it is equally clear. The…

Disturbing the Peace


Rev. Cody Sanders, Ph.D. candidate in Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Counseling at Brite Divinity School

There is something in these furious, feverish words that beckons beyond a simple description of what life will be like if you choose to follow a peculiar call from Jesus and your closest friends and family don’t. Beyond description, there is something of a call in this passage trying to work its way inside of us. These words beckon us beyond a recounting of our inevitable losses on the journey, to embrace our sacred calling to disturbers the peace.

Voices of Moral Mondays – Submit Your Story

Photo by Michael Burns

Help us reach our goal of 100 stories (25% complete) [wppb progress=25] – Moral Mondays sparked a prophetic fire in North Carolina and served to remind elected officials that social justice and protection for the most vulnerable are indeed moral values. Tens of thousands gathered during 13 rainy, hot weeks from April through July. Nearly a thousand people engaged directly in civil disobedience and were arrested for making their voices heard in the legislative building. The protests, organized by the state NAACP under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William Barber, sparked interest across the country…

Moral Mondays Are Home-Grown


“Outside agitators.” The very term reminds those of us of a certain age of the Civil Rights Movement, when anybody coming from outside the South to suggest that the South’s segregation and treatment of African-American citizens was somehow un-American, un-constitutional, un-Christian. And they could be dismissed (or worse) because they were an “outsider.” So it is especially disconcerting to hear Gov. Pat McCrory describe those of us coming to Moral Monday rallies as “outsiders.” And then his ignorance is exposed for the untruth that it is when WRAL-TV examines the…

Faith Leaders Voice Support for Moral Mondays


Faith leaders from across the state and from different traditions continue to speak out in support of Moral Mondays, the weekly NC NAACP-led demonstrations in Raleigh. Within days of each other, the heads of Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United Methodist judicatories in North Carolina and seven Jewish leaders in the Triangle issued statements of support based on their religious convictions. The first letter read in part: The Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler of Union Seminary (Charlotte) recently summarized the effect of pending and enacted legislation especially on the poor,…

Through the Eyes of Faith


Rep. David Price (Binkley Baptist Church, Chapel Hill)

Religious ideas are crucial, both to understanding this history and to dealing with its current manifestations. Realism as to people’s sinfulness and will‐to‐power figured directly in the Constitution’s checking of political power—Madison in The Federalist sounds like a good Calvinist—but taking such beliefs to the extreme can erode all trust and hobble democracy. As for current politics, as Jim Wallis asks in his new book, why should Christians believe in sinless markets any more than they believe in sinless governments?

Were You at the March on Washington?

MLK_I have a dream_resized

On a hot Wednesday afternoon in August 1963, thousands of Americans from all parts of the nation converged on the Washington Mall, determined in mind and spirit, demonstrating collectively for jobs, freedom, and equality. This day would go down in history as the pivotal March on Washington and culminate in the delivery of the now famous “I Have A Dream” by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This summer will mark the 50th anniversary of that momentous event…were you there? UNC-TV is seeking first-person accounts from North Carolinians who…

Moral Mondays Continue in June


Moral Mondays continue (though they will take the day off on Memorial Day). This week’s protest had the largest number of participants (around 600) and of people taking part in civil disobedience and being arrested (57). I saw a lot of Council folks there – current and past Board members, pastors of congregations (including Covenant Partner congregations), previous staff members, and the heads of some of our member bodies. I saw Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church and Nancy Petty of Pullen Memorial…