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…

Justice Advocates Convene for the Cause


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…

Medicaid Message Packs a Punch


Call it an exercise in futility? Well, no. There may not be a chance in the world that the General Assembly’s Republican chiefs will let the latest proposal to expand Medicaid come to a vote this year, or even receive a fair hearing in the committees they control. But by pressing the case, advocates continue to hammer home the benefits of expansion – and perhaps nudge Gov. Pat McCrory to find a way to untangle an impasse that has left many thousands of low-income North Carolinians struggling to get by…

Affordable Care Act and Taxes


Any of you who have already done your tax return for 2014 have discovered new questions about your health insurance status. For many of us, it’s just a matter of checking a box on our 1040 forms stating that we have an acceptable form of health insurance (through an employer, Medicare, etc.) If, however, you enrolled in health insurance through the federal marketplace or were uninsured, there will be new tax forms to fill out, and you may owe a penalty for being uninsured. The penalty has been there as…

Council Puts Hot Topics on the Table


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,…

Coming to the Seminar? Bring a Friend!


The Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar is about a month away, and we have an exciting program of preachers, workshops, and presenters planned. If you’ve already registered to be with us, thank you and we look forward to seeing you on April 14. If you haven’t registered, please do so by April 7 in order to guarantee lunch. Either way, we hope you’ll help us get the word out to other progressive people of faith. You can find a color flyer here or a program and registration form here to print…

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. Please scroll through the registration section for a full list of topics and presenters. 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…

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…

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….

What Frightens Civitas?

Marc Mullinax from HKonJ

Apparently I scare Civitas. Maybe it’s my upbringing. I was raised by a single mom (my parents divorced when I was a toddler) who was fortunate to have a solid job with the federal government and a supportive family who were the safety net between us and poverty. We were lucky. Maybe it was my education. I came up through the Virginia public schools, Kindergarten through college (Wahoowa, y’all!). I attended U.Va. on a partial scholarship from a corporation that thought supporting young people of color through higher education was…

ACA Open Enrollment Deadline — Feb. 15

Heart Health

The open enrollment period for those seeking coverage through the Affordable Care Act ends on February 15. As NC Policy Watch’s Chris Fitzsimon pointed out shortly after this latest round of enrollments began, the process is going smoothly, the website is working, and, most importantly, people’s lives are getting better. In some cases, lives are being saved. In the last weeks of enrollment for 2015, agencies across North Carolina are holding events to provide in-person assistance to anyone needing help as they sign-up for health care. Some of those are listed below….

So Long, 2014: It Wasn’t all Pretty!

Party popper

Of the many decisions and activities that unfold in the arena of public affairs, the ones that tend to show up on the NC Council of Churches’ radar are those affecting the quality of social justice in our state. The Council stands for policies and their associated programs that offer support, relief and prospects for a brighter future to our vulnerable neighbors and fellow residents. That doesn’t mean reckless handouts. It means reasonable public efforts to keep the working poor, children, the income-strapped elderly, immigrants, people with disabilities and those…

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…

Expand Medicaid? Now’s the time


The decision last year by the conservatives who control North Carolina’s state government not to expand the state’s Medicaid program has left an estimated half-million residents out in the cold when it comes to health insurance – that’s the number cited by the N.C. Institute of Medicine. These folks typically are among the state’s working poor, with incomes that might rise above the poverty line but not by much. As a practical matter, the lack of health insurance means they simply do without the kind of routine medical care that…