Remarks originally delivered by Executive Director Jennifer Copeland at a press conference on Tuesday, October 16.
We stand before you today as faith leaders supporting many traditions. We have joined our voices with a host of organizations across N.C. who toil tirelessly for liberty and justice for all who live in our state. We call ourselves “By the People.” I stand before you today representing the N.C. Council of Churches made up of 18 denominations across this state. Our Governing Board, supported by our denominational leadership from General Baptists to Presbyterians, Lutherans, AME-Zion, Episcopalians, United Methodists, just to name a few—are against the six amendments to the N.C. state constitution. Those of us here today have come together for one thing: to ask you to VOTE AGAINST all six of them on your November ballot.
The N.C. Constitution is often referred to as a document even more sound than the U.S. Constitution. While improvements on a good thing can make it better, that is not the case with the six amendments we will see on our November ballot. None of them are good for N.C., even the ones that might sound like a good idea when taken at face value.
For example, the tax cap. Who doesn’t want a “maximum allowable tax rate”? Truth be told, our constitution already has a tax cap, an amount set after careful consideration of the state’s resources and needs. That amount: 10%. Our current tax rate: 5.49%, already set to drop to 5.25% in 2019.
But, rather than focusing on a number that might make us happy today, the N.C. Council of Churches believes we should not handcuff the future. God’s people have always believed we are moving forward into God’s good future and, while doing so, we use every means at our disposal to insure that every living being is flourishing in the present. We don’t know what the future needs will be to ensure flourishing.
- It may be stronger bridges or wider highways.
- It may be higher salaries for state employees.
- It may be medicine or food or clean drinking water.
- It may be more money for our public schools. Seems we need that now…
Some of these things we do need now, but we cannot possibly know what we will need in the future. We must trust our future elected officials to make those decisions and not limit their ability to do so in a way that insures all North Carolinians will flourish.
This is only one example of an attempt to curtail North Carolina’s future by limiting the present. A tax cap is dangerous. Other amendments are simply unnecessary. For starters, we already have the right to hunt and fish, well regulated by our state’s Wildlife Resources Commission. And victims already have extensive rights enshrined in our constitution, Article I, Section 37; it’s quite a long section, by the way. What is added by this amendment will not enhance the quality of life for victims, but it will bog down our already overburdened court system.
I could go on and cover all six in detail, but what we really want you to know is, these amendments were concocted in secret, they are vaguely written, and there has been no forum for public input. That is not the way to run a democracy.
From the ancient of days, God’s People have always believed in equality and God’s laws have always supported fairness. North Carolina deserves nothing less. These amendments do not further those goals. Vote against the amendments. Vote against all six amendments. Thank you.