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Cross posted from Real Economics.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Caroline NAACP, speaking at Martin Street Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC, Tuesday evening, May 7, 2013. Transcript below the fluer de Kos.

The past two election cycles have been political catastrophes in North Carolina. In 2010, Republicans won control of both houses of the state legislature and got very, very busy, preparing to seize total control of the state in 2012. Which they did. State legislative and state senate and U.S. Congressional districts were wildly gerrymandered, with the result that last year, though nearly half a million more Democrats than Republicans voted, the Greedy Old Pricks party won even larger majorities in the state House and Senate, took the governorship, and won seven of 10 seats in the U.S. Congress. The new Speaker of the North Carolina House, Thom Tillis, is a national board member of ALEC, and former Rep. Fred Steen, the past state ALEC chairman, is now Gov. Pat McCrory’s legislative lobbyist.

The legislation introduced and passed by the Republicans has been stunningly swift and breathtakingly awful, and all based on ALEC templates. Unemployment benefits have been cut back to among the stingiest in the nation. Funding for pre-school education has been slashed.  Private school vouchers have been enacted. College students who dare to register where they go to college are having their parents penalized to the tune of $2,500 by the Republicans legislating that such students are no longer dependents, and cannot be claimed as a dependent on parents' state income taxes. A voter ID law is in the works that is so draconian that even some Republicans are warning it needs to be changed. Just a week or two ago, the Republicans introduced legislation to make it illegal for anyone to sell a Tesla, the hot-new all-electric car that was named Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine, except through an in-state Tesla dealership – of which there are exactly zero. (One of the GOP leaders is the legislature own a few car dealerships.)

Their blockbuster effort is to abolish the state income tax, and replace it with a state sales tax. Including on food and medicine. In other words, outlaw any semblance of a progressive tax system, and impose one that totally favors the rich at the expense of the poor.

The agenda of North Carolina Republicans is so extreme, and the pain being imposed on the poor and disadvantaged so overwhelming, that the first sparks of civil disobedience have been ignited. Under the leadership of North Carolina NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, about 100 to 200 protestors have congregated in the halls of the General Assembly on each of the past three Monday afternoons, with about a score arrested each time. They have used the methods  of non-violent resistance during their protests and arrests, and teams of supporters, including lawyers, have stood vigil each time until bond was set and the protestors released. At around four in the morning, each time.

Rev. Dr. Barber is calling this Moral Monday, and he is about to begin a speaking tour of twenty other counties in the state, to begin organizing similar resistance. In his speech on the Tuesday after last week’s Moral Monday, Rev. Dr. Barber laid down the gauntlet to our conservative brothers and sisters of faith.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Caroline NAACP, speaking at Martin Street Baptist Church, Raliegh, NC, Tuesday evening, May 7, 2013. (Same footage as above; see below for footage of arrests and more speeches).

Where are all the so-called conservative Christians, who always talk about values, marriage. I mean where are you? We couldn’t help but hear you when there was a discussion about sexuality.  It was almost like you were obsessed – everywhere, on the radio, and everywhere, meeting and having prayer vigils and you were running around. And whatever your position is on that within your denomination, that’s protected too, the First Amendment says you have the right, freedom of religion.

But my concern is, as an evangelical, as a Christian, as a person of faith, is: are you reading half, or just two or three scriptures in the Bible?  Doesn’t the Bible have more to say, about how you treat the poor, and how you treat the sick, and how you treat those on the margin, than any other subject in all of the Scripture? WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Where are you now?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have spoken then, that’s your right, that’s your faith right. But where are you now? Haven’t you heard that the Bible says “Woe unto those who make unjust laws that hurt the poor”? Where are you now?

Didn’t you hear the Bible when it said love your neighbor as yourself? Where are you now?

Haven’t you heard the moral cry that is the overwhelming cry of all of the Scriptures, and that is: How do you treat the least of these? In the face of 500,000 thousand people not getting health care, where is your voice now?

In the face of unemployed workers becoming hurt more, where is your voice now?

In the face of 900,000 poor people being trampled on, where is your voice now?

In the face of 30,000 poor children losing their pre-school, where is your voice now? Where are you?

Where are those who cry loud? Where are those who speak out?

You’re so loud when it comes to personal sexuality, and so quiet when it comes to social injustice.

You’re so loud when you want to deny a few people their equal protection under the law, but you’re so quiet when the lives and livelihood of everyday people are being trampled on

And I want you to know, in the lovingest way I can say it, but with truth, to be loud over personal private matters, and to be quiet over systemic and social injustice, is a form of Pharisitical hypocrisy.

North Carolina NAACP webpage, with announcements of future Moral Monday protests. There is a DONATE button near the top of the page, on the left. Please consider a contribution!

Scholars, Seniors, Clergy & Students Arrested at NC General Assembly, with many giving their reasons, May 6, 2013, Raleigh, North Carolina.

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