For more than 80 years the NC Council of Churches has stood for essential human rights and common decency grounded in the Gospel imperative to “love God and love neighbor.” We started with the issue of racial equality in 1935 and forthrightly moved into “migrant labor” and immigration, women’s right, the environment, and health care. Anyone watching the news this week has witnessed the steady unraveling of each of these causes and more. The unraveling goes far beyond taking apart the initiatives of the most recent executive administration; we are witnessing the fraying of social safeguards that go back decades in our country.
Enough already. As people of faith have done for millennia, we must speak out against this vitriol and stand up for our values. The values are embedded in scripture and the channels for articulating them are embedded in the Constitution. We must use both. As executive orders cascade from the White House, we must evaluate them in light of scripture. When they do not measure up, we must use the channels of our constitutional rights to oppose them. The orders may be “executive,” but even executive orders cannot contravene existing law. When necessary, we must march and protest, perhaps “disobediently.”
Each week from pulpits across this land clergy must proclaim God’s truth: love God, love neighbor. If folks need a definition of neighbor, I recommend Leviticus 19:34 and Luke 10:29-37. Executive orders, executive appointments, and soon to come congressional legislation that does not meet this definition deserve our ire. We can start with the elected officials from North Carolina. These representatives and senators serve at our pleasure; imagine our power if we demand from them laws that embody only one-half of The Great Commandment — love neighbor. We must demand that every measure debated on the floor of Congress and every bill passed by Congress be evaluated in light of that simple imperative — love neighbor. If it doesn’t meet that criterion, it must never land on the President’s desk. Likewise, orders coming from the President’s desk that violate the imperative to love neighbor must be challenged with every fiber of our being with every peaceful means at our disposal. Start by clicking here to find out how you can contact leaders in Congress.
One week into this presidency, the news is rife with violations of neighborliness. This is not “politics”; this is moral urgency. This is not gray area; this is the blinding white light of God’s command. We must “choose this day whom [we] will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Silence is a choice not to serve God. Speak, faithful friends, speak.