Workers Deserve Dignity and Respect

Workers' Memorial Day

Monday, September 7 is Labor Day when we should honor the workers in our community with dignity and respect. The Social Creed for the 21st century, a document endorsed by major denominations, says specifically we should work for: Employment for all, at a family-sustaining living wage, with equal pay for comparable work. The rights of workers to organize, and to share in workplace decisions and productivity growth. Protection from dangerous working conditions, with time and benefits to enable full family life. As disciples of a living creator who calls on…

Congregations Need NC’s Solar Tax Credits Extended

First Solar Array

NC Interfaith Power & Light Director Susannah Tuttle delivered this statement at a press conference held at United Church of Chapel Hill on August 25. Every faith tradition mandates care of creation and the moral call to address the issues and impacts of our changing climate. If we fail to address the most significant environmental threat to life and human civilization of our time and history, this would be a breach of our religious responsibilities. Solar energy is one of the important “solutions” for addressing climate change, but it is…

Tale of Two Chambers Amid Budget Conflict

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North Carolina has two legislative bodies, the 120-member House of Representatives and the 50-member Senate. They’re set up to be equal in power, although it could be said that the larger House is designed to be more reflective of the public will. Senators typically have more room to operate. And operating in a smaller group, it’s easier for certain senators to gain power through political smarts, force of character or mastery of the issues. Perhaps that helps explain why, during these past couple of years of Republican dominance in both…

Observe Labor Sunday

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The Sunday of Labor Day weekend is Labor Sunday, a day to celebrate workers and their contributions and to support their struggles. It is also a day to commit ourselves to improving conditions for workers and to lament that workers often confront unjust situations such as low wages, unsafe conditions, racism, sexism and other abuses. We encourage congregations to participate in Labor Sunday and to download and include this bulletin insert, which includes resources for lifting up workers in your service. Loving our neighbors means standing with people on the…

Protect Us from the ‘Protection Act’

Welcome to NC

With its misguided “Taxpayer Protection Act” scheme, the state Senate looks to put a crowning touch on its efforts to turn North Carolina into a veritable Promised Land for conservatives, where taxes are always low, the government is always small, and public services are always below average. Will enough members of the House muster the courage to stop the madness? Senate Bill 607,  given final Senate approval on Aug. 12, would cap the state’s individual income tax rate at 5 percent – well below where it’s been in recent decades….

Lessons Learned from the Millennial Leaders Program

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Last month, I had the opportunity to be one of 50 young leaders from across the country to take part in the 2015 Millennial Leaders Program at Union Theological Seminary in New York​ City. The purpose of the conference is to gather together these millennial leaders to foster engagement around the intersection of their experiences​ of spirituality, social justice, and activism. It provides​ a unique opportunity to form a critical mass of activism with groups that don’t usually have an opportunity to come together. I took part in a number of workshops and trainings,​…

Priorities and the Jet that Ate the Budget

Photo by Flickr user Skakerman

A recent article in Raleigh’s News and Observer focused on the F-35 jet. The American Friends Service Committee calls this weapon system the “plane that ate the budget” and puts the lifetime cost at $1.5 trillion. Over the same period of years that Lockheed Martin has encouraged Congress to continue funding the most expensive weapon system ever, we have cut many needed domestic programs that feed our hungry and educate our children. This system isn’t yet working and is way behind schedule. Sen. John McCain said “The (F-35) Joint Strike…

Statement on the Supreme Court’s ACA Decision

Photo by Flickr user: dbking

The North Carolina Council of Churches celebrates today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.  For decades, the Council has supported universal health care, and while the current version of Obamacare does not reach that ultimate goal, it has proved to be a crucial step forward. We are grateful to the justices of the Supreme Court who have upheld the subsidy guaranteeing 6.4 million Americans — more than 450,000 in North Carolina — continued access to care. Meanwhile, some states, including our own, have chosen to fall even farther…

Revenue Boosts and Tax-cut Boasts

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The rooster crowed. The sun came up. The rooster puffed his feathered chest as he beheld his magnificent handiwork. Phil Berger led the state Senate in cutting taxes. Revenues nudged up, putting the state on course to finish its budget year in the black. Berger proclaimed that the tax cuts had done the trick. One might even say that he crowed. “Two years ago, when the Republican legislature passed the largest tax cut in state history, Chicken Littles on the left loudly cried North Carolina would lose so much tax…

David LaMotte on the Fair Food Program

Lots of tomatoes

The Council’s Farmworker Ministry Committee has long been supportive of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its efforts on behalf of those who work in the fields. The Committee has hosted CIW events locally and advocated for the Coalition’s campaigns. David LaMotte, the Council’s consultant for peace, recently had a guest column published in the Asheville Citizen-Times in which he calls attention to the CIW’s Fair Food Program as it pertains to Publix. It reads in part: The Fair Food Program is a historic partnership among farm workers, tomato growers,…

Justice Advocates Convene for the Cause

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The Council of Churches’ Legislative Seminar – its top-profile public event of the year – is meant to inform, and it’s meant to inspire. We’re not too bashful to say that this year’s version, held on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, succeeded on both counts. With the General Assembly moving into the heart of its biennial “long session” – and with conservative legislators seemingly bent on deepening many of the ill-advised holes they’ve been digging for themselves and the state – the seminar focused on a…

Tax Cuts’ Costs Becoming Clear

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Since taking veto-proof control of the NC General Assembly in the elections of 2012, members of the Republican majority have labored diligently to fix what they’ve regarded as a broken tax system. Of course, whether it really was broken is a point many North Carolinians have been quick to dispute. The overall effect of the GOP’s tax-cut binge has been to make it harder for governments at all levels to carry out their public service missions and also to shift tax burdens toward people who are less able to afford…

Faith and Taxation

Christian Witness on the Tax-Sustained Road

Lots of us will have our attention focused on taxes over the next couple of weeks. This focus provides a unique opportunity for faith communities to help North Carolinians make the connection between paying taxes and living out our values.  Paying taxes allows us to invest in the Common Good and build a just economy that supports opportunity for everyone regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. Moreover, if people are taxed fairly so that each of us contributes according to our ability, it will help to ensure…

Council Puts Hot Topics on the Table

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The mission of the NC Council of Churches extends into many areas that highlight the links between faith and public policies. And of the various events and activities sponsored by the Council, none is more closely focused on those links than the Legislative Seminar – giving it a special prominence on the Council calendar. No, it’s not a seminar of the sort familiar on college campuses – a small gathering around a cozy table. This is bigger and broader. It’s meant to be a multifaceted learning experience and strategy session,…

Advocate for Family-Sustaining Living Wages and the Right to Organize

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According to Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), “four million fast food workers across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many workers are standing up for $15 per hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.” Other low-wage workers, such as home health care workers, are now joining this struggle. After enduring bad weather in recent weeks – snow, ice, treacherous driving conditions, schools out at a moment’s notice, and lengthy power outages for many – I have been thinking about low wage workers. They  get no paid…