The NC Council of Churches is proud to publish a brand new e-book collection of testimonies from Moral Mondays. With 32 short vignettes from North Carolinians across the state, Voices of Moral Mondays tells the story of everyday folks being motivated to speak out on account of their faith. Many, though not all, of the accounts describe what it was like to engage in civil disobedience and be arrested by the authorities. Click here to download the free e-book.
By Rebecca Cary, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Durham
During the past winter and spring, as I followed the news, I grew increasingly dispirited. Our state government was taking more and more actions that I believed, as a Christian, to be fundamentally unjust. Christ healed the sick and fed the hungry. The legislature was blocking access to Medicaid and taking benefits away from those who had little, and claiming to be helping our state by doing so.
These actions are not only morally wrong, they are financially absurd. People receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit are spending the money it saves them, on necessities like food, clothes, and rent. Those few families previously subject to the state’s estate tax are unlikely to be feeding the money they save directly into the local economy. Money spent locally on necessities helps create jobs in our communities. Money invested in the stock market does not.
I started hearing about Moral Mondays. A group of religious leaders was organizing demonstrations. People were being arrested. I was teaching summer school until 4:45 on Mondays, so while it was interesting, I didn’t think about it as something I could do. Then my schedule changed. Suddenly, I was going to be able to go if I wanted to. But I was uncertain, and a little scared – how did things work? Would I be arrested? When and where and how long is it, how do I get there, where do I park?
Serendipitously, just as my schedule changed, my church announced an adult forum where people who had been going to Moral Mondays, including two women who had been arrested, would talk about their experiences and answer any questions people had. I went, and what I heard gave me confidence, and I felt called to join my fellow parishioners. The very next day, June 17, I went over to Raleigh with another woman from my church.
Standing there on Halifax Mall, in the heat and the threat of rain, I felt hope. All around me were people who felt like I did. I wasn’t alone anymore. I was part of an “us.” And as I talked to people about my experience, I came to realize that I knew dozens of people who agreed with us, that the increasing crowds on Halifax Mall represented a much larger community formed of many smaller groups uniting in common purpose. I saw migrant workers and union organizers out in the rain or the blazing summer sun vocally defending my right to choose, and marriage equality activists doing the same in defense of labor rights, and NAACP organizers protesting discrimination against LGBT people, and white feminists denouncing the repeal of the Racial Justice Act.
Not only was I no longer alone, I no longer felt powerless. If our community could hold together, through love of justice and God and each other, we could change things. We could register voters, get people to the polls, make sure they had ID. And we will do that. And eventually, together, we will win.