Remarks delivered by Executive Director Jennifer Copeland at a press conference with the NC NAACP in Raleigh on October 13.
Vote your values is a rallying cry issued early and often by faith leaders. Then we neglect to connect the values of our faith to the politicians who can enact them. So, let me give you just a little of my voter guide based on the values of the 18 denominations, 6200 congregations, and 1.5 million members of the NC Council of Churches.
I Timothy 5:18 — “The worker is worthy of the wages.” Pay the worker fair wages. Fair is not minimum. Fair for people of faith is the money necessary to feed, cloth, and house the worker’s family comfortably. Not extravagantly like the lifestyles of those who have caused this economic disparity by their unfair tax codes, just comfortably. If you’ve lost most of your tax deductions causing your actual tax payment to increase even while the tax rate has decreased, then you need to think about who you’re voting for. I will be thinking about that not only because my own tax payments have quadrupled in 2 years, but because I want a tax code that’s fair for all the people of North Carolina.
Matthew 19:14 — “Suffer little children, and forbid them not . . . for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Let the children in. It has been documented clearly and repeatedly that a child’s chance of success is directly related to the family’s poverty level. We can no longer say, work harder, make better choices. That child’s choice is between poor or poorer and that’s not a choice. One of the surest ways out of poverty is a quality education. Helping our children learn how to think critically and giving them the tools to succeed in the work place begins in the schools. If the public schools in your neighborhood don’t have the resources they need, but corporate dividends continue to rise, you need to think about how our tax dollars are being diverted from places of need to places of greed. If your children attend private schools and public schools don’t interest you, consider that 90% of people receive a public school education. This means 9 out of 10 of your neighbors, your colleagues, and maybe your elected officials will be students in our public schools. I will be thinking about that when I vote because I do have investments in the stock market, but I have more invested in the well-being of my friends and neighbors.
Genesis 1:26 — “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” If we all look like God, then oughtn’t we have respect for all the people who look like God? Eunuchs, leapers, and widows were the marginalized in biblical days, but God included them in the beloved community that God offers all creation. Some of their names were Ruth, Simeon, Naaman. Today some marginalized people are called transgendered, disabled, and immigrants, but the demand for respect and inclusion for them is as great as it was for the widow from Zarephath and the Ethiopian Eunuch. It is our place to make a place at the table for them. We are not asked simply to tolerate people who are different from us, we are expected to alter our own way of being in order to make spaces where they feel safe and can flourish. I will be voting for people who lead with generosity, not with fear, when I vote.
Those are just three of my value votes; I could go on all day, the Bible is a big book, but there are other preachers with me and they have their own voter values they want to share with you. Vote your values. When you vote, take at least 10 more people with you. Thank you.