Faith in Democracy

Does it seem impossible to know what to do in the current political landscape? Has the angst reached a recent boiling point that moves you to action? Faith communities have the opportunity to play a pivotal role in restoring and protecting our democracy in lasting ways. How faith communities partner with non-profits and engage with non-faith activists holds a key to transforming our communities and building lasting change.

Please join us in rebuilding and defending “Faith in Democracy.” Session will include:

  1. Legally what can faith communities and faith leaders discuss about the social/political issues? Morally, what are leaders compelled to do? What are the real risks, especially to minority faith and non-faith groups? How is this work rooted in standing up for racial justice?
  2. Why is almost all current state and federal legislation so extreme? How does it threaten our own religious freedom?
  3. How can leaders enable their communities, both inside and outside of the church, to see “political” issues through the lens of faith and become advocates for the good of all, especially for “the least of these”? What does meaningful, ecumenical coalition look like?

Please save the date for one of the following workshops this fall across North Carolina. Official registration is now open. Space is expected to fill quickly so please register here, mark your calendar now, and watch for more information. Workshops will run from 10 am–2 pm:

Monday, September 18- UU Congregation of Wilmington (4314 Lake Avenue, Wilmington 28403)

Tuesday, September 19- Hood Memorial AME (2801 Rose Hill Road, Fayetteville 28302)

Wednesday, September 20- NAACP Office (4130 Oak Ridge Drive, Winston-Salem 27105)

Thursday, September 21- Union Presbyterian Seminary (5141 Sharon Road, Charlotte 28210)

Friday, September 22- Church of the Master UCC (2230 29th Avenue, Hickory 28601)

 

Please join your ecumenical and interfaith colleagues for this important event that will build local coalitions at this critical time for our state and our country. Registration: http://bit.ly/2pPotht

 

Sincerely,

 

Jennifer Copeland,

Executive Director

NC Council of Churches

Marcus Bass,

Faith Coordinator

Democracy North Carolina

Bill Mefford

Faith Outreach Director

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

 

 

The Government We Deserve

by Rollin Russell originally published in Planetary Movement

Numerous sages have said it: “In a democracy you get the government you deserve.”  People on both sides of the “dividing wall of hostility”  (see Ephesians 2) that now separates us can agree, one side with satisfaction, on the other with disdain.

On the reddish side of the wall, many feel they have been ignored, manipulated, discounted, taken for granted and left to scramble for existence as the economic rug was pulled out from under them.  The election was, to them, an upsetting of the apple cart of the elites and power brokers, political, financial and cultural, that made their lives miserable for decades.  Trump will change the system, so let the chips fall where he decides.  They feel they deserve this dramatic reversal.

On the bluish side of the wall, the election outcome was unthinkable.  Their pollsters and commentators told them so.  Their sense of justice, mutual respect and equality, their assumptions about a bright, multi-cultural American future told them so.  And now all those values seem endangered.  The xenophobic, misogynist, racist, arrogant narcissist won the election and his victory unmasks those characteristics in millions who supported him.  The nation deserves this painful reality check.

It is a rude awakening.  So, now, instead of dozens of email requests for political contributions, each day we receive the angst filled or, on the other hand, gloating speculations about the political, economic and social future.  I have found two articles that provide some insight and perspective (and that clearly reveal the side of the wall on which I stand).

Two professors from the University of Texas point out how closely Donald Trump and his campaign rhetoric resemble the political Superman of Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings.  They write:

The title of Nietzsche’s book about a superman, who could be a super-president, is usually translated as The Anti-Christ (1895).  A more accurate translation from the German is The Anti-Christian.  The values of Nietzsche’s anti-Christian are the opposite of Christian values: strength, not weakness; pride, not humility; impulsive passion, not controlled reason, war, not peace; and egoism, not altruism.  In short, the creed of anti-Christians is this: “What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself.”     (The Daily Texan, November 18, 2016)

The second insight is not really new.  It is from an Alternet article that describes why 81 per cent of Evangelical Christians voted for the President Elect. (Pugh Research, 2016)  It sights the ideological rigidity of the white, fundamentalist, Christian population that is dominant in the American heartland.

Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems.  Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change.  When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to     outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power.

Rational arguments about qualifications for the office are futile.  Citations of gross behavior, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia are to no avail.  The crucial issues are abortion, homosexuality, male dominance and the makeup of the Supreme Court, which has authorized ‘unthinkable’ change in all these areas.

So, we acknowledge the supreme irony of fundamentalist Christians overwhelmingly supporting a candidate who plausibly can be described as the anti-Christian, would-be superman.  The “dividing wall of hostility,” thus, seems impregnable.  In Ephesians the dividing wall is broken down by a peculiar and powerful sort of love that embraces the poor and outcast, defies the pretentions of power and empire and envisions the reign of justice and peace.

There are still Christians, Jews, Muslims and persons of other faiths and of no faith who are committed to this authentic biblical/ethical vision.  Their voices are currently drowned out by the noise of self-appointed and self-anointed fundamentalist preachers.  But, in them is our best hope for a future of unity and mutuality.  Let those who “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly” (Micah 6) raise their voices and act on their convictions, and let the walls come tumbling down.  One day we may get the government we need rather than the one we deserve.

Rollin O. Russell

 

Opposing HB2

intersection

Why Orange Durham Americans United will fight against HB2:

HB2 is a law in NC that requires people to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate. The justification of the law was made as a “public safety issue.” Now the state of NC is on a list of place to boycott.  The entire state.

 

  • When NC Senator Buck Newton announced HB2 – he said “Keep NC Straight” showing that the law is not about protecting anyone, it is about vilifying the LGBTQ community. Divide and conquer.
  • #ProtectThyNeighbor is a program within Americans United to stand up against hate and bigotry toward marginalized groups.
  • When the law was championed, clergy from the religious right were present with law-makers to show their support. We are working to organize clergy in opposition to the law.
  • Biblical literalist religious dogma requires a horrific view of any expression of
    homosexuality
    other than chastity.
  • Biblical literalists reject the classical American commitment to equality of all citizens before the law and in society. Fundamentalist faith justifies an exclusivist and punitive attitude to LGBTQ citizens and works to codify that into law.
  • HB2 is not only an attempt to deny basic rights of these citizens, it also wants to forbid local communities from protecting those rights.  This is clearly a law based on fundamentalist religious dogma, a quasi establishment of religion.

Getting Souls to the Polls

Keeping Sacred Spaces Sacred

September 20-23, 2016

The polarization of our nation during this election year has been perplexing and often painful. Join The NC Council of Churches, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and other faith leaders to discuss the intersection of politics and religion and ways to provide a faithful witness in your own community.

Topics Will Include:

  • What can I legally discuss with my faith community as its leader?
  • What pending legislation could affect the church and state relationship?
  • How can I continue to advocate for the good of all, especially the “least of these”?

Registration is $15 to cover coffee, lunch, and snacks.

Please use this link, which includes payment options: http://goo.gl/forms/XHtkxlxcq6x2LA2u1

Or call the NC Council of Churches at: 919-828-6501

 

Workshop Dates and Locations

GREENVILLE – Tuesday, September 20, 10 am – 2 pm

@ St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 401 East 4th Street

DURHAM – Wednesday, September 21, 10 am – 2 pm

@ First Presbyterian, 305 East Main Street

CHARLOTTE – Thursday, September 22, 10 am – 2 pm

@ Selwyn Presbyterian, 2929 Selwyn Avenue

ASHEVILLE – Friday, September 23, 10 am – 2 pm

@ First United Church of Christ, 20 Oak Street

#SchoolsOurStudentsDeserve

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.24.59 AMPost by Allison Mahaley,

President Orange-Durham Americans United.

When I first decided to leave my job in public education and become an activist for the cause, I did a lot of research. I even wrote about it all on my blog, Ex-teacher on a Crusade. My search for answers landed me in Americans United and keeps me devoted to watch-dog work.

The plan to dismantle public schools, privatize them, and return control of them to churches or corporate institutions in America is no joke. The NC Public School Forum explained it years ago in a report called, Finding Common Ground.  The religious right made easy alliances with reformers as the nation publicly bashed schools for not closing the achievement gap. Now the religious right is getting teachers to help spread discord and religious intolerance in schools as explained in the Washington Post article published today.

So, our chapter, Orange Durham Americans United has joined forces with other groups who are wanting to stop the train wreck and support our schools. Public Schools First NC , North Carolina Association of Educators, Organize2020, The NC Justice Center, AimHigherNow, and many more are part of this coalition. This campaign is called Schools Our Students Deserve. It has one main focus: Keep NC public schools adequately funded at the state level. In order to achieve this goal, we will pressure local agencies to give teachers a voice in their profession so they, too, can speak up.

We are gaining momentum. When need more foot soldiers. Join us.