Voting Rights Sense, in a New Light

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Over and over, we heard North Carolina’s stringent voter identification law, enacted by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2013 over the protests of voting rights advocates, described as simply a “commonsense” measure to deter ballot fraud. We were supposed to ignore the fact that the kind of fraud by impersonation that a voter ID law might prevent has not been a problem in this state, with only a minuscule number of cases coming to light. We were supposed to ignore the difficulty that many residents – elderly, disabled, living in remote…

Standin’ in the Need of Prayer

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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…

Statement on the Supreme Court’s ACA Decision

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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…

Scrutiny for Gun Laws, Post-Charleston

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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…

Undocugraduation: Hope to Replace Fear

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By Wayde Marsh, Duke Divinity School Intern On my way to work one day last week, I listened to WUNC as I usually do. I heard a lot about the state legislature during my drive to Raleigh – about how the Senate budget will cut up to 8,500 teaching assistants jobs and the stories of TAs lobbying Senators to rethink the plan, about how the House plan is much different, but both will leave the state with millions of unused funds, and about Moral Monday protesters naming the injustices of…

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…

Statement on the Shootings in Charleston

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With people across the world, the North Carolina Council of Churches grieves with the congregation of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. This kind of violence against people of faith in other parts of the world has recently and rightfully been called terrorism. Indeed, the people of Emanuel AME have experienced a terrorist act. Fear and violence invaded their space of grace and hospitality while they were together for the faith filled purpose of prayer and worship. As they welcomed the stranger into their midst, an act of…

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,…

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…

Religious Freedom or Using Religion to Justify Discrimination?

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Discussions in recent days of so-called religious freedom bills in Indiana, Arkansas, and now North Carolina raise issues – both legal and pastoral – which the NC Council of Churches has been addressing for many years. The legal context The first words of the Bill of Rights are the religious liberty clauses: “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The so-called Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from interfering in the practice of religion. But constitutional rights are not absolute. So, for…

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…

District Lines Entangle Race, Politics

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The Republicans who rule North Carolina’s General Assembly start the new year riding tall in the saddle – and yes, we can imagine GOP legislators tipping their Stetsons to salute the state Supreme Court, which gave them an early Christmas present that must have made their holidays glow even brighter. The gift arrived on Dec. 19, in the form of a long-awaited ruling that swept aside challenges to the current district boundaries for seats in the US House, the state House and state Senate. Those redistricting plans — crafted after…

So Long, 2014: It Wasn’t all Pretty!

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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…

Council Post-Election Road Shows to Charlotte and Asheville

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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…

Clergy Breakfasts Kick Off with Sermons, Stories and Questions

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For the past two weeks, the NC Religious Coalition for Justice for Immigrants has been on the road for its annual clergy breakfast series on immigration. These breakfasts are designed to encourage conversations about immigration and how churches can play a role in welcoming immigrants within their communities. The format of the breakfasts are relatively simple: clergy share a meal together and have time to network; speakers present topics related to what the Bible says about immigration and also what challenges immigrants in that particular community are facing; then there…