On April 20th of this year, clergy from across North Carolina sent an appeal to state leadership: in light of last year’s controversial legislation and unprecedented moral protest, let us sit down and reason together, we said.
But as the General Assembly’s short session begins today, North Carolina’s elected leaders have refused to hear the cries of those directly affected by their policies.
This morning, the Moral Movement in North Carolina will hold a press conference at 9am to announce plans for a Moral Monday Love Feast on May 19th. You can watch live here.
All North Carolina law makers and residents who will listen to the cries of our state’s most vulnerable are invited to break bread together at this love feast for justice. Below is the full invitation to 2014′s first Moral Monday from North Carolina clergy.
Dear Governor McCrory, Speaker Tillis, Senate Leader Berger, and all members of the General Assembly,
We are writing as a follow up to our letter of April 20th, 2014, in which we asked to meet with you about matters of deep moral concern. As leaders of religious communities across our state, we wanted to extend the biblical invitation which says, “Come, let us reason together.”
We have no permanent enemies, only an abiding commitment to justice. If, as you’ve sworn under oath, you are also committed to defending this state’s constitution and acting on behalf of all North Carolina’s residents, then we would like to find a way to move forward together.
But you have not agreed to meet and seriously discuss these concerns. So we are writing to extend another invitation.
On Moral Monday, May 19th, we plan to celebrate a love feast for justice. In all of our traditions, a shared meal is symbolic of the economy that is possible when we hold true to our most basic moral principles. If you who are willing to work with us to repeal the extreme legislation of 2013 and move forward together, then we invite you to break bread with us.
In the Jewish tradition, each Sedar meal is a reminder that the economy of God is greater than the economy of Egypt, where a Pharaoh who did not remember Joseph enslaved the descendants of the one who had saved Egypt. When we eat the Sedar meal, we remember how Pharaoh had a super majority, but God led a moral movement through the Red Sea, destroying the armies of the proud.
We invite you to join us for a love feast on May 19th because we do not want to see you swept away when justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
In the Christian tradition, we remember Jesus feeding the five thousand whenever we celebrate a love feast. In the context of a perceived scarcity, Jesus’ disciples asked him to send the crowds away hungry because there was not enough to feed everyone. But Jesus was very clear. He told his disciples to give what they had. Though their offerings were meager, there was more than enough.
We invite you to join us for a love feast on May 19th because we know there is enough for everyone’s need (though not for everyone’s greed).
In the Muslim tradition, we celebrate the end of Ramadan with a feast for the whole community. But before the prayers of this celebration can be said, every Muslim must offer Zakaat al-Fitr, a personal offering of charity, to ensure that there is enough food for everyone.
We invite you to join us for a love feast on May 19th because we know that the bread we withhold from the poor is an offering we have stolen from God.
Some will say, no doubt, that eating together is only symbolic. But we in North Carolina know that when four students from A&T University sat down to eat together in 1960, it sparked a movement that changed the Jim Crow South.
We recall the African proverb that says, “He who cannot hear the mouth chewing cannot hear the mouth crying.”
Unless we acknowledge one another’s humanity around the table, we cannot hear the cries of those in the human family who suffer injustice. Maybe this is why you have not been able to respond to the 500,000 North Carolinians who do not have heathcare because of your decision to refuse Medicaid expansion. Maybe this is why you denied 120,000 North Carolinians their unemployment insurance. Maybe this is why you stripped hard working public school teachers of benefits while re-writing the tax code so that our state’s 23 wealthiest families could get richer.
Maybe you cannot hear the mouths of North Carolinians crying because you have not sat down at the table of sister and brotherhood with those who are directly affected by your decisions.
This is why we invite you to join us on May 19th, 2014. Don’t worry about coming to us. We’re coming to you. And we’re bringing with us those whose lives have been crushed by your decisions. We pray that you will pause to break bread with them and with us, the people of North Carolina whom you claim to represent. If you will join with us in this symbolic action, committing yourself to a new day in Raleigh, then we ask that you also contact the NC NAACP office so we can plan a time to discuss concrete measures to repeal the denial of Medicaid expansion, to reinstate the Racial Justice Act, to restore the earned income tax credit to poor working families, to protect voting rights, and to give school teachers the pay they deserve.
We pray you will commit to join us May 19th, and we look forward to working with you for the North Carolina that we know is possible.