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…

Standin’ in the Need of Prayer

Rock Hands

Raleigh’s Martin Street Baptist Church (historically African-American) and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (historically white) have a partnership that has extended over more than two decades. It grew out of the personal friendship of former pastors David Forbes and Mahan Siler. Both of them, by the way, have been leaders in the Council over the years, with David preaching at this year’s Legislative Seminar. A call went out on Saturday from Nancy Petty, Pullen’s current pastor, for Pullen folk to go to services at Martin Street on Sunday as a way “to stand in…

Scrutiny for Gun Laws, Post-Charleston

Gun Statue

Their timing, as it turned out, was less than impeccable. The gun-rights boosters who are pushing N.C. House Bill 562 ran up against some common-sense objections that resulted in two main elements being stripped from the bill. But more than that, later on the very evening when the bill gained final House passage, the folly of lax firearms regulation was once again illuminated by the monstrous events in Charleston, S.C., where the devil’s brew of guns and racial hatred claimed nine lives. The fate of nine respected and beloved citizens who…

Racism and Islamophobia — Local and Global

coexist

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

tapestry-650x432

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,…

The Pope and Ecology: Shouts from the Highest Steeple

Pope Francis -- Dioscg

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…

What Does it Mean to Wear Ashes in Protest?

Ash Wednesday

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

barbed wire

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,…

In Mourning

SONY DSC

The deaths of Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Deah Shaddy Barakat are an unspeakable tragedy. Whether officials eventually decide that they were murdered because they were Muslim, because they were faithful, or because of a parking spot, their generous and gracious lives have been brutally cut short. We will never know all the good they would have done. We pray peace for all those impacted by this horrible act and pray that we as a society will deeply, fervently consider why we so often turn to violence.  

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…

Which Christmas Will We Embrace in NC?

Frozen3

Now that Epiphany is over, we are looking back on Advent and Christmas, and remembering our celebrations — special time with family, special foods or gifts.  An article in the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s winter newsletter entitled “For Which Christmas Are You Preparing” by Rev. Ellie Stock, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, St. Louis, Missouri, led me to reflect on my warm-fuzzy memories in relation to questions she raises. In terms of the real celebration God wants for Christmas, have I missed the boat?  Rev. Stock describes our three Christmas celebrations: The first is…

Advent – What Peace?

adventcandle

This second week of Advent is often set aside to reflect on peace.  Reflection is a starting place; it does not take much reflection time to recognize that peace is very distant, and even seems impossible at times, in the current state of the world. We not only reflect on peace, but proclaim peace as a possibility, and work to usher it in. Through the work of Partners in Health and Wholeness, we are passionate about helping people steward their bodies as a part of God’s creation, tapping into the…

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…

Worldchanging 101: Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness

lamotte_hat

It’s not every day that the organization that you work with finds itself in the Acknowledgements of a newly published book. But that is the case in “WorldChanging 101″ by David LaMotte, a co-worker at the North Carolina Council of Churches. David continues to work with the Council as our Peace Consultant and has recently published this book, subtitled “Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness.” David is a man of music and of stories…great stories. In this book he weaves all of the stories of his journey together to illustrate that all…