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

Fast Food-1

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…

Doomed UNC Centers Sang the Wrong Songs

Poverty level line graph

It’s easy to imagine what the conservative Republicans who rule North Carolina’s legislative roost were thinking: “Here we’ve gone to all the trouble to take control of the General Assembly. We appoint the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors. We set the system’s budget. “So why should we have to put up with the jibes of an impudent Democrat law professor who uses his university job to accuse us of ignoring poverty? What do he and his liberal pals know about putting more money in poor people’s pockets?…

Two Former NCCC Presidents Among Faith Leaders Meeting with US Labor Secretary


On September 16, two former NC Council of Churches President were among a select group of 13 religious leaders who met with US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to discuss how faith groups and the administration can work together to protect workers and provide greater economic opportunity for all. Stan Kimer, the Council’s Immediate Past President, represented the NCCC, and the Rev. Sékinah Hamlin, Council President from 2007-2009, was there on behalf of her current organization, the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative.  Read Stan’s recently published blog for details and photos.

Workers and Justice — A Call to All People of Faith

Extravagant Generosity

“There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American whether he [or she] is a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid, or day laborer.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Day Sunday this year is August 31 — a day to remember all who labor with special thoughts for those who labor for less than living wages. These include fast food workers, farmworkers, hotel industry workers, caregiving workers in homes, hospitals, and nursing homes, associates  and clerks in our stores,…

National Priorities — What Would Jesus Say?


“Inequality for All,” a documentary with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, considers the priorities of the US over the last century and offers some interesting observations. When has our country prospered and created the most comfort for the most people? How have government regulations affected different people? Who has been helped by the rules and who has been hurt?  Although the film is not presented from a faith perspective, after viewing it three times, I find myself thinking about the sheep and goat story in Matthew 25 with my eyes…

Tax Cuts’ Sour Notes


If a session of the NC General Assembly can be compared to an opera — comedy, farce or tragedy yet to be determined – then the governor’s recommended budget might amount to the overture. It introduces main themes and sets a mood. But there’s no guarantee that the governor and the legislators who are the opera’s singers will end up making music together. As the 2014 legislative session gets under way in Raleigh, the overture is finished and the curtain is rising to reveal a bevy of performers. As usual,…

Photos from HKonJ 2014


The Council helped organize a Service of Repentance and Consecration in front of the General Assembly Building prior to the Moral March and HKonJ People’s Assembly held earlier this month in Raleigh. The photos above were taken throughout the day as Council friends, volunteers and staff came together with people from throughout North Carolina and the nation.

HKonJ 2014 — Moral March and People’s Assembly


A cross-section of North Carolinians and progressives from other states flooded downtown Raleigh on Saturday as part of HKonJ 2014. Longtime activists from across the state walked with college students, parents pushed young children in strollers, old friends renewed acquaintances, and new relationships were forged. The day began with an interfaith Service of Repentance and Consecration, organized by the Council for lay leaders and clergy. About 50 people gathered in front of the General Assembly Building before heading to Shaw University to take part in Shabbat services conducted by area Jewish leaders and…

Pray with Us on Friday, March with Us on Saturday


Join the NC NAACP, the North Carolina Council of Churches, and coalition partners for this weekend’s Moral March on Raleigh and HKonJ People’s Assembly. Events include: A Mass Meeting and Worship Service Friday, February 7, 7 p.m. Abundant Life Christian Center 4400 Old Poole Road, Raleigh Keynote speaker is Bishop W. Darin Moore, Presiding Prelate of the Western Episcopal District and the NC Conference of the Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District, with NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber presiding. The service is open to people of all faiths…

Boosts for Voters, Protestors

Photo by Flickr member twbuckner

By the time last year’s edition of the NC General Assembly finished its work, it was as though the laws and policies by which this state is governed had been run through a conservative wringer. Taxes and budgeting. Health care. Unemployment benefits. Public schools. Environmental protection. In these key areas and others, the Republican-controlled legislature put its stamp, in accord with the conservative belief that when it comes to government, less is better. Smaller government, though, can lead to the neglect of what should be public responsibilities to look out…

A Year of Setbacks, Pushbacks

Photo by Michael Burns

At the close of a momentous year for politics and public policy in North Carolina – a year that challenged many people of faith to act on their beliefs — we again might find ourselves wondering whether things have to get worse before they can get better. That “things” got worse for many of the state’s residents during 2013 there’s little doubt. They are the people who, for example, found their unemployment benefits unnecessarily chopped, or who are sending their kids to schools where teacher assistants have been laid off….

Shutdown’s Pain Spreads

Extravagant Generosity

Once the budget snarl in Washington finally is untangled and the federal government is back up and running – hopefully in time to avoid a perilous default on the country’s debt – some of North Carolina’s poorest residents will be among those sighing with relief. But what happens in the meantime? Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration has decided not to enroll new participants in the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program because the money has stopped flowing from Washington. And if the unthinkable happens and the federal shutdown continues…

When I was a Child, I Spoke with Hunger Pains


One in four children in North Carolina is at-risk of hunger. Yet the House of Representatives will soon take up a bill that will cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) over 10 years. These cuts are cruel, unjust and immoral, which makes them un-Biblical. There is probably no one in our churches that wants a child to go without food. This message must get through to our elected officials. Charities provided $4 billion in food assistance in 2011, but government nutritional assistance…

Faith Communities Cannot Do It All


Many of you listen to Marketplace, a business-news program produced by American Public Media and carried in North Carolina by WUNC radio. Monday night, Marketplace carried a very good, though brief, report on Moral Mondays, taking the word of North Carolina’s protest movement to a national audience. Council Communications Director Aleta Payne and I met last Sunday for an hour with Marketplace reporter Noel King and producer John Ketchum. Noel is from a Catholic background; John is out of an African-American Methodist tradition. Both showed a real understanding of the…

Moral Mondays Reverberate Across the Country

Burns MM 05

I finally had the chance to go my first Moral Monday earlier this week. Walking around Halifax Mall with our Executive Director, George Reed, I was struck by how many people we both knew. I’m deeply proud of the involvement by clergy and faith communities in particular. So many of our members are represented not only in the crowd but also in the faces of those participating in civil disobedience and getting arrested. As we celebrate Independence Day this week, we give thanks not only for the many freedoms our country offers, but in particular for the countless faithful voices speaking up and speaking out for those who are being pushed to the margins by this General Assembly.