At the DNC, a North Carolina Preacher Delivered a Sermon Even Atheists Could Get Behind

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, gave a sermon tonight that brought down the house at the Democratic National Convention.

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While the beginning was heavy on faith — you can’t blame him for that — the rest of it was a call to arms for justice and love for all people. Including atheists.

We need to embrace our deepest moral values and push for a revival of the heart of our democracy. When we fight to reinstate the power of the Voting Rights Act, and we break the interposition and nullification of the current Congress, we in the South, especially, know that when we do that, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.

When we fight for $15 and a union, and universal health care, and public education, and immigrant rights, and LGBQT [sic] rights, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.

When we develop tax and trade policies that no longer funnel our prosperity to the wealth few, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.

When we hear the legitimate discontent of Black Lives Matter, and we come together to renew justice in our criminal justice system, we are embracing our deepest moral values and reviving the heart of our democracy.

When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child, the Muslim and the Christian and the Hindu and the Buddhist and those who have no faith, but they love this nation, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.

When we fight for peace and when we resist the proliferation of military-style weapons on our streets, and when we stand against the anti-democratic stronghold of the NRA, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.

Now, my friends, they tell me that when the heart is in danger, somebody has to call an emergency code, and somebody with a good heart will bring a defibrillator to work on a bad heart, because it’s possible to shock a bad heart and revive the pulse.

In this season, when some want to harden and stop the heart of our democracy, we are being called like our foremothers and fathers to be the moral defibrillators of our time.

We must shock this nation with the power of love.

We must shock this nation with the power of mercy.

We must shock this nation and fight for justice for all.

We can’t give up on the heart of our democracy. Not now, not ever! And so I stop by here tonight to ask: Is there a heart in this house? Is there a heart in America? Is there somebody that has a heart for the poor? And a heart for the vulnerable?

Then stand up! Vote together! Organize together! Fight for the heart of this nation! And while you’re fighting, sing that old hymn, revive us again! Fill each heart with Thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

Hallelujah!

We spend a lot of time talking about people pushing their faith through politics. But this is a wonderful example of someone inspired by faith to push for strong secular policies that help the people who need it most.

It’s the sort of religion that’s hard to argue against and that I wouldn’t mind seeing in place of the hate-filled rhetoric we so often hear from evangelicals and religious conservatives.

The New York TimesLaurie Goodstein put it well:

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I could proudly get behind that umbrella term. There are so many of us, from different faith backgrounds, working to make this country a better place. We can have our theological differences and still get behind many of those items Barber talked about.

What a wonderful sermon.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.