Statement Affirming the Principles of Concern for the Poor and the Vulnerable as Made More Visible by the “Occupy” and Other Movements
Approved June 5, 2012 by the Governing Board of the North Carolina Council of Churches
In recent months, there have been numerous stories in the media about groups in this country and around the world, including the “Occupy” movement, which draw attention to issues of concern about the poor and the vulnerable. These are issues on which the NC Council of Churches and its member bodies have spoken and taken action for decades. Without taking a position on the inherent propriety of any specific movement or group, there are some basic principles that we as Christians can agree upon:
As people of faith, we believe that every person deserves dignity and has the right to be heard. This is a core value across religious traditions.
We believe that no corporate organization or government is entitled to limit basic human rights or to deny the dignity of any person.
We call upon governments and those wielding power to institute reforms that protect the rights and interests of individuals.
We believe that all people of faith are called by God to have a special concern for the poor and the disenfranchised.
People of faith have warned about the downside of globalization: worldwide economic inequalities, ecological degradation, the erosion of ethics and morality, and the disregard for indigenous cultures.
People are questioning an economic system that may disempower the majority while enlarging the wealth and power of a social elite. This elite may manipulate both policies and the economy according to its interests, while poverty rates increase, unemployment and underemployment remain high, and many face financial insecurity or overwhelming levels of debt.
We invite every American to join in the moral energy that raises these ethical questions. Let us unite in a new partnership – elected leaders, business owners and the general citizenry – to establish economic equity and security in a “beloved community”.
This is not a matter of Us versus Them. It is a matter of realizing that we are all in this together. The potential of our common humanity can be realized when we act in peaceful and democratic ways. Human community can transcend the things that divide us into haves and have-nots, that violate human rights and deny the dignity of each person. We share this vision with everyone.
The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for economic and racial justice ring clear in our ears, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”