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…

Racism and Islamophobia — Local and Global

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By Wayde Marsh, Duke Divinity School Intern “Islamophobia doesn’t just affect Muslims, it affects a broad range of people,” began Manzoor Cheema, a leader of Muslims for Social Justice and one of the coalition leaders for the newly formed Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI). “The only way to overcome this oppression is to unite in our struggles.” His message was very pertinent to those at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church recently, where representatives from at least 21 organizations gathered. Those present are actively engaged in efforts to stop…

Refugees Find Hope in Meeting With Each Other

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By Wayde Marsh, Duke Divinity School Intern Storytelling is a central piece of community organizing because through it you offer your listener a way into your life in an organized format: a challenge you faced, a choice you made, and an outcome. And so, one by one, the diverse collection of people surrounding me offered up their stories: “When I was 12, I was [abused] by nine soldiers in the street and left to die…” “After my father was killed, we had to flee…” “After we fled the civil war,…

Sad Signals on Tolerance, Rule of Law

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Gov. Pat McCrory tried to warn his fellow Republicans who call the tunes in the General Assembly. The rule of law was at stake, McCrory said, and the state would be asking for trouble if it let public officials pick and choose which of their duties they will carry out. His veto stamp thumped down on Senate Bill 2. The governor to his credit wasn’t swayed by the notion that an official should be able to avoid performing a duty because of a “sincerely held religious objection.” Granting that leeway is…

The Pope and Ecology: Shouts from the Highest Steeple

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The excitement is building: for the first time in history, the Pope is issuing an encyclical on the environment… but wait, why is this important? First, the Pope presides over the largest religious body with a single human leader: Catholicism. He is influential. Second, the encyclical is the second most important document the Pope can issue and is the first of its kind to address environmental issues. The letter is a significant event. Along with our Catholic partners and Twitter companions @CatholicEcology, @CatholicClimate, and @CathClimateMvmt we are counting down the…

Project NO REST Needs Your Input to Help Victims of Sex Trafficking

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At the North Carolina Council of Churches, our work is often guided by Isaiah 1:17, which advises,​“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” In my work I often focus on calling people to see the sacred worth in strangers and immigrants and farmworkers in their communities. Farmworkers are often at-risk for labor trafficking due to their immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and the​ lack of strong labor protections. Human trafficking is much broader than just labor trafficking — it can…

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,…

Nepal and Baltimore

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Faced with darkness at home and abroad, may we do what we can to bring peace and ease. In both Nepal and Baltimore, lives have been lost tragically. Let us pray for the departed and all those who love them. In Nepal and Baltimore, years of neglect and conflict only contribute to the current crisis. Let us pray for equity and reconciliation. In Nepal and Baltimore, neighbors and strangers have come together to clean up after destruction. Let us pray for them and all those they are helping. In Nepal…

Prayers Today on Workers’ Memorial Day

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A few weeks ago, The News & Observer published an article entitled “Many NC workers’ death go uncounted,” describing how often workplace deaths in North Carolina are uninvestigated, undocumented, and unreported. The article details the ways that the NC Department of Labor reports workplace fatalities and how a large number of deaths are not counted in the numbers that are reported. Many of these workplace deaths are related to the North Carolina economy’s ties to an agricultural system that demands physically difficult and often dangerous work. For example, the article…

Medicaid Message Packs a Punch

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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…

What Does it Mean to Wear Ashes in Protest?

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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…

Commentary About Torture Report Published

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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,…

February 6 — Contact Senator Burr

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Our friends at NC Stop Torture Now are organizing a call-in to the offices of Sen. Richard Burr for Friday, February 6. Now that he is head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his role in the full release of the 6,900-page report on the CIA torture program becomes even more crucial. Christina Cowger of NC Stop Torture Now writes in part: The summary of the Senate report revealed appalling details of the U.S. government’s systematic use of torture.  It catalogued numerous grave and plainly illegal abuses, many of which were…

Register Now for 2015 Faith and Immigration Summit

Time Is Now Immigration Rally in DC

This year’s summit will focus on issues affecting children and youth coming to our state from Central America. Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve will preach during opening worship and music will be a Latino praise band. This event promises to accomplish four main goals: • Offer a unique statewide, ecumenical gathering for faith leaders who work primarily with immigrant congregations; • Help equip these faith leaders to deal with the daily challenges faced by their congregations, especially related to their immigration status; • Provide a space for networking and sharing of best…

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…