Ten Things I Learned from the 2014 Clergy Breakfasts

Clergy Breakfast 2014B

The past two months the NC Coalition for Justice for Immigrants has been busy with its annual clergy breakfast series. This year we hosted five events across the state, as far west as Black Mountain and to the east toward Greenville. In total, 87 clergy and congregational leaders participated. I had the pleasure of attending all of the events and wanted to share a few lessons that I learned (or was reminded of) along the way: 1) North Carolina is a big state and each community is different. As I…

Keep the Light Shining on CIA Conduct

barbed wire

Perhaps you can fight fire with fire, but you can’t – or shouldn’t – attempt to fight terrorism with terror. That’s an ultimate takeaway from the U.S. Senate report detailing abusive interrogations of terror suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA had a heavy responsibility in those dark days after Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans were desperate to know not only who had carried out the hideous attacks that claimed so many innocent lives but also whether more attacks were being plotted. What’s more, the agency and its overseers…

2014 Advent Guide


The Council’s 2014 Advent Devotional Guide is now available as a free download. Each year, Council staff take a social justice theme as a focus for these guides to be used during the season of Advent or Lent. For this Advent season, that focus is the care and well-being of children. As we say in the introduction: As we enter Advent, that time of excited, exquisite anticipation, may we never lose sight of that season’s reality. Jesus, the one we await, was the poor, paperless child of immigrant parents, specifically an unwed, teenage…

Environmental Responsibility Knows No Boundaries


This week, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping – leaders of the world’s two biggest polluters – announced a “historic agreement.” Each country committed to reducing its nation’s carbon emissions: The US will reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, while China agreed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, with 20% of its energy coming from renewable sources. These actions alone are not nearly enough, friends – but they signal a hopeful chapter in global climate negotiations and represent the progress we can make over…

Conservatives, Riding High, Can Heed Cooler Heads


There’s no getting around the fact that when North Carolinians went to the polls on Nov. 5, they gave a thumbs-up to the conservatives who’ve been in charge at the General Assembly for the last four years – doing damage that calls to mind the proverbial elephant in a china shop. Republican victories might not all have been overwhelming (putting aside those districts rendered virtually immune from competition by GOP gerrymandering), and in a handful of cases Democratic challengers emerged on top. But when the dust settled, the rightward tilt…

Council Post-Election Road Shows to Charlotte and Asheville


What do Tuesday’s elections mean for North Carolina? How can people of faith in the state continue to affect positive change? Join the staff of the North Carolina Council of Churches as we visit Charlotte and Asheville to discuss ways our programs are providing a progressive, faithful voice for issues facing NC residents and how you can be involved. We hope you’ll join us: Monday, November 17, Noon-2 p.m. Park Road Baptist Church 3900 Park Road, Charlotte Bring a bag lunch and join us at 11:30 a.m. for fellowship. We…

Hope for Our Future: The EPA Clean Power Plan


More than 40% of carbon pollution comes from power plants. Yet incredibly, there are currently no limits on greenhouse gas emissions from these plants. But now, the EPA has proposed first-ever standards for carbon pollution from the nation’s existing power plants. This proposal will limit emissions from power plants by 30% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Make your voice heard before the comment period ends on December 1, and tell the EPA to move forward with strong carbon standards for power plants. There is a limited time that the EPA will be accepting…

Voter Protection Hotline


We are coming to the end of the time for voting. Early Voting ends this Saturday, November 1. (Check with your local board of elections for the places and hours for Early Voting in your county.) Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. Polls will be open across the state from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Our friends at Democracy NC operate a toll-free Voter Protection Hotline. If you or anyone you know encounters problems with being allowed to vote, call immediately for help. Write down the phone number and take it with you…

Voter Suppression Highlighted From on High


When thorny constitutional issues are being hashed out in the courts, it’s a fact of life that the show isn’t necessarily over until SCOTUS sings, or declines to sing. The acronym refers of course to the Supreme Court of the United States, which on Oct. 8 had the last word as to the rules for North Carolina’s upcoming election. The high court, in its wisdom, allowed a state law enacted in 2013 to continue in full force and effect. That was despite a strong challenge mounted by civil rights and…

Early Voting Map Helps Locate Sites


Our friends at the NC Conservation Network have created a useful (and nifty) interactive map of North Carolina that will point you quickly to your closest early voting site. Click here to view it and use it. Just type in your address in the Search box at the top right, then click Return, NOT the little icon in the Search box. (Check to be sure it has given you a site in your county.)  It will tell you where the site is, show it to you on a map, give…

Judges Give ‘The Full Bill’ Thumbs-Down


October 9, 2014 Update: On October 8, the US Supreme Court handed down the final word about voting for this fall’s elections in North Carolina. It upheld the District Court’s decision not to put any of our new voting laws on hold and overturned the Circuit Court’s decision which would have allowed same-day registration during early voting and out-of-precinct provisional voting on Election Day. So we are back to where we started with the voter suppression provisions of H 589 adopted by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor…

Where to Go for Voting Info


Perhaps the N.C. chapter of Americans for Prosperity was just trying to be helpful when it mailed out a bunch of “official application forms” to prospective voters. Thanks a lot, guys. The State Board of Elections tells news organizations it has been hammered with queries and complaints about the forms, which include confusing misstatements about the voter registration process. If being helpful was its real intent, Americans for Prosperity would have done better simply to direct folks to the state board’s website. The board offers accurate, clear instructions for registering…

Voting Rights Update for Pastors and Other Faith Leaders

Blog Pic - Vote Button

November 4 is Election Day. Because of changes in election laws, it is important that people in our pews know when and where they can vote. All of the following are important:  October 10 is the last day citizens can register to vote. To avoid any problems, your parishioners should be sure they are registered at their current address by October 10. Please consider announcing this from the pulpit on Sunday, October 5, and put it in your newsletter for that week. Or send it out by Facebook and Twitter…

Educating the Littlest and the Least

Row of desks

Recently, several counties in North Carolina have begun passing resolutions discouraging undocumented children, including unaccompanied minors, from attending schools in these counties. These children, who often have no family in the United States and do not speak English, are the most vulnerable and the “least of these.” These counties are making it clear that unaccompanied minors are not welcome here and will receive no support. Even though the children are already here among us, such resolutions would put up additional barriers to make life impossible for them in this country….

Judges Ponder Rules to Vote By

Row of flags

North Carolina’s upcoming general election – Election Day is Nov. 4 – will be the first held under a revamped set of rules making it less convenient for some citizens to vote. Or, conceivably, the old rules will apply after all. That’s because the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has appellate jurisdiction in federal lawsuits arising from North Carolina and four other states, has agreed to hear arguments as to why the election law changes enacted last year should be put on hold. A three-judge panel of the…