Shutdown Scenario: The Hunger Brink
The political stakes and motives are plain to see. President Obama and his Democratic allies on… Continue Reading
I’ve been thinking about mustard seed as I reflect on Moral Mondays. Jesus once described the coming kingdom of God by comparing it to a tiny seed that grows into a large tree.
Moral Mondays started with a simple call to people of faith to prayer, to pursue the “moral high ground” of nonviolent protest and peaceful assembly, to register distress at the direction our state was being taken by the General Assembly and Governor. The call came from the Rev. William Barber, pastor of Goldsboro’s Greenleaf Christian Church, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, and the creator and prophetic force behind Moral Mondays. On April 29 (my birthday, but I’m pretty sure that’s just coincidental) there was a “pray-in,” followed by a rally at the General Assembly, followed by civil disobedience that resulted in 17 arrests.
As you’ll see in the news clip and discussion above, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is about to implement major changes to how chickens are processed. These changes will harm workers and consumers alike.
The USDA plans to implement a new rule to increase production speed and eliminate 75% of USDA inspectors in poultry processing factories. Companies will police themselves. During the comment period last year, the proposed rule was savaged by food safety experts, animal rights activists, and worker advocates. There was no credible rebuttal to their concerns. With faster production and less oversight, it’s no surprise that the pilot program found higher rates of salmonella.
In celebration of World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 24, Pope Francis said:
Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.
Here in our own political context, we might re-word the Pope’s powerful message to say: Immigrants are not pawns for Congress.
It’s been 90 days since the US Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the House has done nothing with it. In those 90 days, more than 100,000 immigrants have been needlessly deported.
Governor Pat McCrory recently issued a proclamation declaring September 15-21 to be “Farm Safety and Health Week.” Here at the NC Council of Churches, we’ve been working with rural communities and farmworkers for decades, and we are well aware of the need for safety on our state’s farms. Our friends at NC FIELD have issued a powerful press release calling attention to the need for not only words from the Governor’s mansion but for real actions by all NC agencies and growers to make farmwork safer and to close the child labor loophole that puts kids in danger.
The Jefferson PostHave you ever gone to bed hungry? Have you ever skipped a meal so that your children could eat? Have you ever waited in a long line to take home a bag of leftover groceries that was no longer fit for store shelves?
Did you know that 1 in 6 North Carolina households reported serious problems affording adequate nutritious food at some point last year, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture today. Of the North Carolinians experiencing this food insecurity, some 5.5 percent experienced very low food security – meaning that one or more household members had to reduce their food intake at least some time during the year.
On Sunday August 25, about a hundred Durham residents and faith leaders from seven different traditions gathered at the People’s Plaza to pray for our elected officials. As people with different stories, different colors of skin, even different faiths, we were united in our hope that Rep. Butterfield, Rep. Coble, Rep. Price and their colleagues in the House will support a just and moral immigration reform that offers a pathway to citizenship, unifies families, supports workers, and moves us forward together.
If you’ve been following immigration reform, you know that this month is crucial to the effort for overhauling our nation’s broken immigration system. While the US Senate passed a reform bill earlier this summer, the fate of millions of immigrant families lies in the House of Representatives. This month there are a number of key events happening across NC. When you participate in a prayer vigil or march, you’re letting our leaders and the media know that North Carolinians are serious about reform. We hope to see you there.
Somewhat lost this summer amidst all the conversation about comprehensive immigration reform is a little-known bill called the “Agricultural Guestworker Act” (or “Ag Act,” HB 1773) that has already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. This harmful bill is a thinly veiled attempt to strip farmworkers of the few rights they have on the job while propping up agribusinesses’ bottom line.
We’re proud to be publishing these brand new church bulletin inserts on comprehensive immigration reform. With large color pictures and up-to-date facts and figures, these 8.5×5.5 inserts explain where things stand with federal legislation and offer congregants many different ways to get involved.
American spirituality is discovering itself anew as people of faith reconnect with the land. As I’ve traveled the country I’ve met fellow Christians who are falling in love with their faith all over again, and in every instance this love affair is tied to a place. Not a lofty cathedral directing the worshipper’s thoughts heavenward; these places draw the eyes—and the hands—down to earth, back to the soil from which Genesis tells us we were formed, and which we’re called to “tend and keep.” Our first and most basic human task, I’ve come to learn, is to care for the garden.
So begins Fred Bahnson’s recent op-ed article in the Washington Post. If you don’t know Fred already, you should. He’s a gifted speaker and writer, a thinker and theologian, but most importantly, he’s a gardener. After working for years with Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove, NC, he now directs the new Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
Most North Carolinians oppose fracking, favor clean energy and think current regulations are sufficient or should be stronger. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released the North Carolina poll results on July 15, 2013. “From the mountains to the beaches, it’s clear that North Carolinians take special pride in their state, and see state environmental safeguards as protecting our heritage and ensuring that our children can enjoy this place we know and love,” said NRDC senior attorney Luis Martinez, who is based in Asheville. Among the poll’s key findings: 61% say state environmental standards and regulatory standards do more good than […]
The post Recent Poll Shows North Carolinians Want More Clean Energy appeared first on North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light.
In these fever-pitch days of summer, with the once-in-a-generation chance at real immigration reform in Congress, we’re hearing a lot about how reform is good politics (for both parties) and good for the economy. These are of course important factors, especially in the political context of a major legislative fight on Capitol Hill, but for Christians, should these be the most determinative considerations?
The General Assembly has adjourned its 2013 session after a final cascade of disappointing and disturbing bills that now await review by Gov. Pat McCrory. Among the bills approved are ones that will make it less convenient for many citizens to vote and that weaken regulatory oversight of the environment.
There was at least one bright spot, as the House rejected a last-minute push by the Senate to speed up the environmentally risky natural gas extraction process known as fracking. But on the whole, legislators succeeded in putting the crowning touches on a session devoted to a conservative agenda the likes of which modern North Carolina has never before seen.
Across the street, a small, unassuming, idyllic Catholic church faces the Duke Power Riverbend Coal Plant at the center of litigation and outrage in response to consistent pollution and lack of effective coal ash pond treatment. For a new intern at NCIPL, the physicalized contrast contained powerful irony that drove home the nature of our relationship as faithful North Carolinians with utility companies; we will always be living side by side. While utilities provide us the basic comforts of modern life, we see the destructive nature of their work and feel called to act and react against it. Such was […]
Since the end of slavery in America, no workers have been more exploited than the men and women who bend to the earth in backbreaking labor, picking fruits, vegetables, and tobacco. Despite miracles of agricultural progress and innovation over the decades, the harsh lives and working conditions of migrant laborers have changed very little. Their cause has been championed in the past by Edward Murrow, Cesar Chavez, and the United Farmworkers. But that list is incomplete without Baldemar Velásquez . Velásquez was among hundreds of thousands of children who joined their migrant parents working long hours in the fields. Inspired by that early experience, Velásquez founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in 1967.
Only in today’s Washington would legislation that grows the economy, reduces the debt, curtails illegal immigration, helps the GOP politically and enjoys public approval in the 80% range be seen as a problem for the House Republican caucus. With every flimsy excuse crumbling, it comes down to John Boehner. Actually his choice is pretty simple: a bipartisan majority for reform with a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America exists right now; he should find a way to have that majority express its will.
It could be said that the elephant – symbol of the Republicans who control North Carolina’s General Assembly and governor’s office — has labored and brought forth a mouse. But this is a mouse with sharp teeth.
After weeks of effort, the legislature’s Republican majorities and Gov. Pat McCrory have agreed on a spate of changes to the state’s tax laws centered on cuts in personal and corporate income taxes. The cuts aren’t as deep as some conservatives wanted. Still, they will sap revenues that finance the entire portfolio of state programs and services.
I finally had the chance to go my first Moral Monday earlier this week. Walking around Halifax Mall with our Executive Director, George Reed, I was struck by how many people we both knew. I’m deeply proud of the involvement by clergy and faith communities in particular. So many of our members are represented not only in the crowd but also in the faces of those participating in civil disobedience and getting arrested. As we celebrate Independence Day this week, we give thanks not only for the many freedoms our country offers, but in particular for the countless faithful voices speaking up and speaking out for those who are being pushed to the margins by this General Assembly.
As rabbis at this week’s event told reporters, the civil disobedience was not an option of first resort – Republican legislators repeatedly blew off meeting requests from clergy who are eager to discuss the impact the North Carolina GOP’s policies have on the common good. As the movement has gained steam, some politicians have resorted to insulting Moral Mondays participants. The governor dismissed it all as an effort led by “outsiders,” and one state legislator dubbed it “Moron Mondays.” It brings to mind Gandhi’s saying, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
From Acts of Faith: Free Lectionary Resources for Prophetic WorshipDate: Proper 8 – June 30, 2013
Volunteer Ed Ablard and I discussed the work and mission of NCIPL, as well as the wonderful evening Ed organized at his church, St. Paul’s Episcopal. Thank you so much to Ed for arranging this interview; it was a pleasure to be with you and all of our coastal allies this week!
This past week, the Nuns on the Bus national tour made stops in Durham and Charlotte to raise awareness about the need for just and humane immigration reform. In Durham, the Nuns visited the office of Church World Service, an amazing nonprofit that resettles refugees here in America.
I had the wonderful privilege of sitting down with Bishop Michael Curry to discuss this critical moment in the struggle for humane immigration reform. Millions of immigrant families are living in the shadows, afraid to drive to work or drop their children off at school. Here in North Carolina, thousands of children live with the constant fear that today could be the day that their parents don’t make it home. Immigrants are our brothers and sisters, and when one part of the Body of Christ suffers, we all suffer with it. That’s why it’s so crucial for faith communities to publicly support the US Senate’s immigration bill.
Nuns on the Bus – a 6,500 mile odyssey exploring the need for humane immigration reform – is coming to North Carolina during May 31-June 1.
Nuns on the Bus were welcomed last year by thousands of well wishers as they traveled from state to state in support of of federal budget priorities that address the needs of struggling families. This year, they are traveling across the Unite States–6,500 miles over 15 states–53 events in 40 cities–standing with immigrants, faith-filled activists, community organizations, and Catholic sisters who serve immigrant communities.
Their message is clear: Congress must act now to implement commonsense immigration policies that reflect our values, not our fears.
Now is the time to demand that North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan stand on the right side of history and publicly support the Senate’s immigration reform bill.
Call 1-888-891-3271 and ask Senator Burr and Senator Hagan to publicly support immigration reform.
From Acts of Faith: Free Lectionary Resources for Prophetic WorshipDate: Proper 6 – June 16, 2013
Last week, members of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) joined allies and activists from across the state in protesting Reynolds American Inc.’s treatment of farmworkers. Last year, Reynolds earned $1.3 billion in profits, but the company has hesitated to take proactive steps in guaranteeing good housing and fair pay to the workers at the very heart of its supply chain. Here at the NC Council of Churches, we have long supported farmworkers’ rights to living wages and dignity on the job. No one should have to work in slave-like conditions to provide for their family. Corporations should take responsibility for their supply chains, and the people whose labor makes possible their profits.
A leader against economic injustice and two longtime advocates on the Council’s board have received the North Carolina Council of Churches’ highest honors.
Gene Nichol received the Faith Active in Public Life Award. Barbara Volk and Sydnor Thompson II were recognized with Distinguished Service awards. All three were presented at the Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar which took place April 11 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh.
Last week about 150 women gathered from across the Triangle to hear the stories of “Ruth’s Journey: Building Communi-TEA.” This one of a kind interfaith tea and dialogue focused on conversation about the impact of immigration on women and their families.
With the introduction of the landmark immigration legislation by the Senate, the immigration debate continues to heat up. And North Carolina is paying attention. From faith leaders to business leaders to the state’s leading newspapers, we are seeing very strong support for the bill. Now is the time for our elected officials to step up and help make humane immigration reform a reality. Below is a summary of recent perspectives on the bill.
From Acts of Faith: Free Lectionary Resources for Prophetic WorshipDate: Pentecost – May 19, 2013
Join fellow women of faith at “Ruth’s Journey” as we discuss how relationships transcend barriers and the need for immigration reform.
When: 3:00pm on April, 26 2013
Where: Duke Memorial United Methodist Church 504 W. Chapel Hill Street, Durham NC
RSVP & for more information: email@example.com
Growing up working on the family farm is an important tradition that should be preserved, but employing young children in hazardous work should not be a tradition any longer. Child labor laws should be the same for every industry. All children in North Carolina deserve a safe, healthy and bright future.
Speaking to 200 social justice advocates, Gene Nichol delivered a powerful luncheon address at the Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar held April 11 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh. He received the Council’s Faith Active in Public Life Award at the Seminar for his “courageous, dedicated, humane and compassionate witness in the political arena.” Rev. George Reed, the Council’s Executive Director, introduced Nichol by saying in part, “To know Gene is to see the embodiment of Catholic social teaching about social justice and the common good.”
The NC Council of Churches, American Red Cross and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC are partnering together to provide more Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and CPR training to places of worship in select counties. To date, 183 congregations have received an award.
To learn more or to complete an application, please click here. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 24.
From Acts of Faith: Free Lectionary Resources for Prophetic WorshipDate: 4th Sunday after Easter – April 21, 2013
Facing mounting criticism both statewide and nationally, the NC Department of Transportation has backed off from the now-infamous “pink stripe” design for driver’s licenses that will be issued to young immigrants. The original pink design, which was an administrative decision made behind closed doors, ended up receiving national media coverage, including major outlets like USA Today, Reuters and the NY Times. The redesigned licenses will retain the problematic wording: “Legal Presence / No Lawful Status.”
Dozens of faith communities and religious leaders from across theological traditions weighed in against the controversial license.
Holy Week this year is also National Farmworker Awareness Week (March 24-31). It seems like no accident that the week in which we celebrate Jesus’ service and sacrifice for humanity is the same week that we celebrate the extraordinary gifts that farmworkers offer to our communities. As we prepare to celebrate Holy Week, we invite you to celebrate the many vital contributions that farmworkers make to our state. Join with faith communities, student groups, community organizations and many others who are taking this opportunity to lift up those who do some of the hardest work for the lowest pay.
Earth Day weekend is the perfect time to direct attention, prayer, and action to Caring for Creation. This year, Earth Day is Monday, April 22. Visit NCIPL’s Earth Day webpage for resources your congregation can use to honor Earth Day, events occurring across the state, and details on how you can share your plans.
NCIPL hosted a webinar on how your congregation can obtain a free energy savings analysis (also known as an energy audit) on March 12. The recording of the webinar is now online. This service is offered to all North Carolina congregations at no charge. Share the webinar with others at your congregation and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your congregation’s audit today.
Join @Sojourners for a National Day of Mourning and Lament. On June 1st, take time in your day to #Lament100k deaths from #COVID19 by sharing moments of silence, lowering flags, hosting interfaith vigils and prayers, and other ways to honor their lives. sojo.net/articles/la…
"So if you’re walking down the street sometime And spot some hollow ancient eyes Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare As if you didn’t care, say, Hello in there, hello” Read more on Cherishing the Elderly Among Us ncchurches.org/2020/…
A big thanks to @rosadelauro for introducing the Childcare Is Essential Act in the House. This legislation would provide grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate. #InThisTogether #StrongerTogether
"#COVID19 has directly claimed tens of thousands of U.S. lives, but conditions stemming from the novel coronavirus - rampant unemployment, isolation and an uncertain future - could lead to 75,000 deaths from drug or alcohol abuse and suicide." @WLNS ow.ly/PaqW50zSZ4N
RT @WakeGOV We’ve created #COVID19 toolkits in the most commonly spoken languages for organizations in our diverse community to use to help spread factual information. For fact sheets, graphics for digital media & other resources, visit our resources page to download! ow.ly/dEcb50zRjdp pic.twitter.com/lYP2…
RT @800273TALK No matter what you’re dealing with, if you ever need extra emotional support, call the Lifeline. Our caring counselors are here for you, 24/7/365 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
"People who suffer from the disease of addiction are particularly vulnerable to both catching the coronavirus and having a more severe disease when they do catch it." @HarvardHealth #opioidcrisis #COVID19 #harmreduction ow.ly/TnkR50zSYQ2
RT @CCLTriangle @UsaParents @ABC11_WTVD @katcampbellwx @wralweather @WRALAimee @mazewx66 @ZachMalochWX @BigweatherABC11 @wunc @WNCN @WeatherProf Indeed it is time to tell everyone in the Triangle area regularly how the #ClimateCrisis changes our weather and what other consequences are expected as a consequence! @SunriseDurham @SunriseRaleigh @ClimateLake @NCSCO @NCClim8Justice @ncclimatestrike @CCLCharlotteNC pic.twitter.com/R8hX…
RT @ncchurches Join @Sojourners for a National Day of Mourning and Lament. On June 1st, take time in your day to #Lament100k deaths from #COVID19 by sharing moments of silence, lowering flags, hosting interfaith vigils and prayers, and other ways to honor their lives. sojo.net/articles/la…