Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Clergy Release Open Letter during Passover to Governor McCrory and NC General Assembly Leadership on Behalf of the Forward Together Moral Movement


April 22, 2014

For more information:  Atty. Jamie Cole, Public Policy Coordinator, 919.682.4700                                              Laurel Ashton, Field Secretary, 828.713.3864 

Clergy Release Open Letter during Passover to Governor McCrory and NC General Assembly Leadership on Behalf of the Forward Together Moral Movement

DURHAM -  A group of clergy members from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, including Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, released a letter last week to Governor McCrory, Senate Leader Berger, and Speaker Tillis on behalf of the Forward Together Moral Movement. The letter requested a meeting with the North Carolina General Assembly leadership before the opening of the 2014 short session on May 14th. The letter is provided below.

The letter emphasized the constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane nature of the public policy agenda pushed in the 2013 session and urged a new and moral direction to be forged in the upcoming months. 

NOTE: This letter has been updated since its original release to include the full list of clergy who have signed on.

Click here if you are a person of faith or a person of moral conscience and good will who would like to sign your name to this letter to Governor McCrory, Speaker Tillis and Senate Leader Berger.


April 18, 2014 

Governor Patrick McCrory

State of North Carolina

1 E. Edenton Street

Raleigh, NC 27601

Senator Philip E. Berger

President Pro Tempore

North Carolina State Senate

2007 Legislative Building

Raleigh, NC 27601

Representative Thom Tillis

Speaker of the House

North Carolina House of Representatives

16 W. Jones Street

Raleigh, NC 27601

"We believe it is time to move in a different direction, a new direction, a moral direction.  We are in the middle of Passover, a holiday that commemorates God's work to ensure justice for Gods people."

Dear Governor McCrory, President Pro Tempore Berger and Speaker Tillis:

      In this holy season we write to you with a sense of urgency, prayer and call of faith to speak truth and love. The business of governance is complicated and often requires making unpopular policy decisions that alienate even the most beloved elected officials from their bases. Over the course of the last year, you and your colleagues made several unpopular policy decisions.  These decisions cut resources from an already overstretched K-12 budget; they rejected health insurance for more than a half million of our poorest; and they rejected insurance payments that would have sustained out-of-work North Carolinians who had paid into the unemployment insurance program.  Your decisions allow fracking to go forward while Duke Energy's coal ash spills are permitted at the expense of our state's water supply. Your decisions cut off women's rights; undermined incarcerated people's rights; and underfunded our state universities. Moreover, you passed egregious policies that undermine our democracy by impeding the voting rights of elderly, poor and minority citizens. There are a host of other negative decisions your leadership group made last year.

      While we love all of you as members on the human family and fellow citizens of the state of North Carolina we disagree with your decisions. Unpopular decisions are inevitable.  But the policy positions we listed above are not only unpopular -- they are constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane.  They are immoral because they negatively impact the lives and livelihoods of millions of North Carolinians.  They strip people of their hard-earned rights to federal support.  They strip others of access to resources they could receive in most other states. When your leadership group rejected the federal Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, for example, experts say nearly 3,000 North Carolinians will die prematurely because of your decision. These are people you swore to provide equal protection to, and to govern in their interest.  Instead, they will die unnecessary deaths because of what appears to be an ideological desire to inflict political harm on the President by a refusing to participate in a beneficial and free federal health insurance program.  We have heard the claim that the 10% share North Carolina must contribute after three years might create budgetary problems. Most observers, including other Republican Governors who have reconsidered their ill-advised rejection of these medical insurance funds, have calculated that this small sum North Carolina would have to contribute by 2017 will be considerably less than what North Carolinians will be paying now, as uninsured people are forced to go to expensive emergency rooms.  Your decisions demonstrate fiscal imprudence and shortsighted thinking. They hurt the least of these while serving no legitimate policy purpose.

      In response to these attacks on our poor and working people, the Moral Monday Movement has attempted to return the public policy of North Carolina away from serving ideology and partisanship, back to serving people. We have tried not to cast personal aspersions on you and your colleagues in the General Assembly, but to call all of us to higher ground in our governance... to attend to God's call that rests on all of us. The Forward Together Moral Movement, born out of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street Assemblies, had its origins in opposing Democratic Party politics on the same basis we oppose many of your decisions -- they are morally flawed;  they hurt the poor, they hamper the access of the marginalized; and they undermine the integrity and common welfare of our state's citizens. These policies violate the principle of "the good of the whole" and negatively impact the short and long term economic health of this state.

      When we come from all over the state to Raleigh for Moral Mondays, petition your colleagues in the General Assembly for fairness in your policies, and surrender ourselves for moral obedience - these are not attempts to cause you or your colleague's personal discomfort or undermine your governance.  Rather these are our peaceful efforts to respond to God's call to remind you of the creedal confessions you proclaim on Sunday mornings.  We witness to remind you of the substance of the hymns you sing, of the content of the messages you hear your ministers give, and heart of the Gospel message you and your colleagues claim is your own.

      The Moral Monday Movement is an effort to call you and your colleagues to realize what you say you believe on Sunday morning should impact the way you live and the way you govern. You cannot say you love God, whom you have not seen, if you develop policies that hurt your brothers and sisters whom you encounter each day and whom you are pledged to serve! Our goal is to have governance correspond with the essential morality that lies in our most holy and scriptural traditions and in our normative beliefs of what is just and fair.  Policies that fail to uplift the downtrodden, that fail to sustain the afflicted, that fail to enhance the lives of the underserved, that fail to expand the rights of the oft-forgotten, that fail to welcome strangers to our land, that fail to improve the quality of life for each of us as children of God, these policies fail the moral litmus test we are pledged to use to evaluate our state's governance.

      We believe one of the most egregious aspects of the decisions you and your colleagues promoted last year was the wholesale adoption of the American Legislative Exchange Council's agenda, which Speaker Tillis helps to lead.  We remember when you criticized our indigenous North Carolinian movement last year as being outsiders with an "alien agenda."  Your critique turned out to be fallacious as applied to the Moral Monday Movement, but it is wholly appropriate when applied to ALEC. This corporation-funded group is alien to North Carolina. Its legislative proposals are taken verbatim from an ideologically conservative playbook created hundreds of miles away from our state, and dropped un-contextualized onto our citizens. ALEC's policies are inconsistent with our needs as a state and contrary to what will improve the quality of our lives. The ALEC playbook has taken us from being the model Southern state to being the butt of jokes in the national media.  These policies have dropped us lower than South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama in terms of our voting rights and social policies.

      We suggest it is time to move in a different direction, a new direction, a moral direction.  We are in the middle of Passover, a holiday that commemorates God's work to ensure justice for his people.  We believe this is an appropriate time to come together to discuss issues of justice in our state. We are days away from celebrating Easter, a holiday that celebrates God's work to ensure forgiveness and reconciliation.  We believe this is an appropriate time to meet with you and your colleagues, our brothers and sisters in faith.

We propose a meeting before the short session begins to discuss key matters about the governance of our state with you and your leadership team.  We represent people from across our diverse North Carolina; from all different racial, economic, religious, social and political constituencies.  We wish to share our concerns with you in search of ways to renew our state and to make our government responsive to the needs of all our people.  We believe we can find some common ground on key issues to move forward together.  To schedule this meeting please contact our Policy Coordinator, Attorney Jamie Phillips Cole, at 919-682-4700 or by email at look forward with great anticipation to forging a new relationship with you and the other members of your leadership team to plot a new direction for our state.

With God's Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church

President, NC NAACP

Architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement

Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler

Associate Professor of Bible

Union Presbyterian Seminary, Charlotte Campus

Rev. Dr. Dumas A. Harshaw, Jr

Pastor of First Baptist Church

Rev. Nancy Petty

Pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle

Pastor, Word for Transformation Church and Outreach, Inc.

Rev. Dr. Fred Gibson

Pastor, Greater Providence Baptist Church

Rabbi John Friedman

Judea Reform Congregation

Rev. Dr. Gregory K. Moss

Pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Peter Wherry

Pastor of Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Sheldon Shipman

Pastor of Greenville Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church

Rev. Dr. Dwayne Walker

Pastor of Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church

Rabbi Lucy H.F. Dinner

Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Or

Rabbi Ari Margolis

Assistant Rabbi, Temple Beth Or

Rev. Dr. Cardes Brown

Pastor of New Light Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Alfonso McGlenn

Pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church

Rev. Dr. Nelson Johnson

Pastor of Faith Community Center

Imam Khalial Akbar

Masjid Ash Shaheed

Rev. Dr. John Mendez

Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Earl Johnson

Pastor of Martin Street Baptist

Rev. Dr. Jimmie Hawkins

Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church

Rev. Kojo Nantambu

Pastor of Green Oak Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. William Turner

Pastor of Mount Level Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Gerald Sylver

Pastor of Freedom Temple Church

Rev. Dr. Jay Leach

Pastor of Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte

Rev. Dr. Donnie Garris

Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Clay Phelps

Pastor of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist

Pastor Richard and Rev. Jill Eaton

Pastors of United Church of Chapel Hill

Rev. Dr. Andre Knight

Pastor of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church

Rev. Dr. Patricia Dowtin

Conference Director for Voter Registration for A.M.E. Zion NC Eastern District

Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls
Founding Pastor, Sacred Souls Community Church

The Right Reverend Michael B. Curry

The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina

Rev. Robin Tanner

Senior Minister, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church

Rev. Glencie Rhedrick

Associate Minister, First Baptist Church West

Past President, Mecklenburg Ministries

Rev. Curtis Gatewood

NC NAACP HKonJ Coaltion Coordinator

c: Forward Together Moral Movement Partners


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