Today’s post coincides with a story on the most recent episode of the Last Week Podcast. You can hear the original story from the show by clicking here.
Rev. William Barber spoke at the 2016 Democrat National Convention about how Hillary Clinton and the Democrat party had the morals and values that our country holds and that they were going to restore the true democracy of this country. At that time he was the head of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP. You can see his ten minute speech below.
A little over a week ago, Rev. Barber was convicted on trespassing charges by a court in Raleigh. Back in 2017, Rev. Barber and a number of other protesters were arrested at the North Carolina General Assembly for blocking the hallways and not following law enforcement officer’s instructions to leave. I was having problems embedding these videos on our website, but you can see them on N&O.com.
They were asking to speak with lawmakers about keeping the Affordable Care Act here in North Carolina and after none would meet with them, either by choice or because they weren’t present (it isn’t entirely clear), they began to block the hallways. In the video linked above you can hear the shouting and the dialogue between the people who work in the Legislative building and the Capitol Police and Rev. Barber and the demonstrators.
During his testimony, Rev. Barber refereed to the loudness of his voice as his “preaching voice” and that he would never classify what he was doing as shouting or yelling. You can see Rev. Barber testifying in his defense last week on N&O.com.
After four days of testimony and twenty two minutes of jury deliberation, Rev. Barber was found guilty of criminal trespassing. The judge sentenced him to a one-day sentence which was suspended, 12 months of unsupervised probation, a $200 fine, and 24 hours of community service. Rev. Barber said immediately after that he would appeal.
Rev. Barber is basically the south’s version of Al Sharpton. To be fair, I think Al Sharpton is much more antagonistic than Rev. Barber, based off of some of Sharpton’s previous statements. Back in 1991, Sharpton referred to orthodox Jews as “diamond merchants” who were oppressing black diamond miners in South Africa and some credit that to be the trigger for the Crown Heights Riots which was a series of violent race riots in which black Jews and orthodox Jews turned against each other.
I say all of this to give a good introduction about the recent activity of someone who I believe is at the start of a new movement I’m calling the Religious Left. The Religious Right rose with the Tea Party and the election of Donald Trump to use, primarily, evangelical values to protest abortion, homosexual marriage, and to change the immigration laws to be more strict.
The Religious Left takes it in the opposite direction. Rev. Barber is a black evangelical Pentecostal preacher who is fighting for open borders, abortion, and medicare for all and using Scripture to justify his beliefs. I really do encourage you to go watch his testimony (the second link from N&O.com and his DNC speech above).
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This is interesting to see because, for many years, and even still today, us conservatives have been told that we shouldn’t be justifying our political beliefs based off of our religion. But now that we are in the beginnings of the 2020 presidential election, we are starting to see more and more an appeal to God from the candidates. Mayor Pete Buttigiege (D) of South Bend, Indiana has attacked Vice President Mike Pence, unprovoked, for his position on homosexual marriage and that, and I quote, “That if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who mind you are polling just above zero, are openly talking about their religious beliefs and using them to justify their policy proposals. So why are conservatives not allowed to do this? Well, simply because we’re not for the same values that they are.
Rev. Barber, I think, was and is the beginning of this new movement. He was the one who started the “Moral Monday” protests here in North Carolina, which later turned into a national movement. I also believe this because of his speech at the Democrat National Convention in 2016. He was coming out in full force saying that Hillary and the Democrat party have the true morals and values in this country and that they are here to “restore democracy,” implying that the other side is there to destroy democracy. I won’t deny Rev. Barber is a good speaker, but I disagree with him on a number of issues.
I don’t believe that anyone disagrees that healthcare is a right and there probably should be some universality aspect of how we make our policy. Most of us can agree that the Affordable Care Act, while having good intentions I suppose, was a disaster. Healthcare costs have gone up and some areas are left with only one insurer. But some of these bills that are currently in Congress are much worse. I’m talking about Sen. Sanders’ Medicare for All, Sen. Kaine’s Medicare X, or this other Medicare for America bill. If you read these bills you’ll find that they are a disaster for religious liberty. All three of these would force religious institutions to perform procedures even if they violate their beliefs. Immediately it would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions and possibly participate in in vitro fertilization. And if physician assisted suicide ever comes down the pipe, it would force Catholic hospitals and doctors to participate in that too. Under any Medicare for all plan, the Little Sisters of the Poor would have to continue to purchase contraceptive coverage. These healthcare bills alone restrict freedom and religious liberty.
And, whether Rev. Barber likes it or not the NRA donates less money to Congressional campaigns and spends less money on elections in general than Planned Parenthood or George Soros. The left traditionally said we need to let everyone into our arms and embrace them as they are: homosexuals, transgenders, criminals. It is interesting to see progressives move from accepting everyone, to only accepting everyone who agrees with them.
I do want to take the time to point out, however, that overwhelmingly, progressives are not affiliated with religion. Obviously there are a few outliers, Mayor Pete or the white Protestant uber progressive parents who decide not to tell their kids what their gender is. But most do not identify with a religion that has any foundation or hard set belief system like Catholics or Jews. Bishop Barron likes to refer to these unaffiliated, but “accepting” people as “nones,” and overwhelmingly, many young people are nones. They are those that choose not to believe in anything but accept everything as valid for fear of offending people. EPIC Radio was founded to help combat and convert some of these young people from being nones. We are here to let everyone know that they are welcome in Jesus’ church. That’s what EPIC means, every person in Christ.
That being said, I wouldn’t count on a huge rise in the religious left simply because I don’t think the numbers are there; the largest religious voting bloc on the left is Black protestants. But it is interesting to see such a large appeal to faith when we have been told for a long time that our politics and our faith should be separate. But I would urge you to be cautious when hearing some of these candidates speak about their faith and how it justifies their beliefs. Especially when it comes to the abortion debate, traditional marriage, and when someone identifies as Catholic. Progressives find it offensive. “How dare a man have a say in an abortion debate” or “how dare a straight couple have a say in gay marriage.” They find it offensive and want us to stop talking.
On the most recent episode of Matthew Pope’s In the Apostles’ Doctrine, Matthew mentioned that because our Catholic faith is so strict, in a lot of areas, in its teaching it’s going to offend people. It’s going to offend people that we think that there are two genders and that marriage is between a man and a woman. Its going to offend people that we dont think women have a right to an abortion. Keep in mind that offensive doesn’t mean insultuing and it doesn’t mean abusive. I think the best synonym now is, possibly, triggering. For those that haven’t heard of this new phenomenon, trigger is basically saying something, usually true, but it offends people so much that they shut down or being to sling a series of ad hominem attacks at the person who said it. Usually, someone is triggered because they have held a belief for so long and it has never been challenge. But if we have to trigger someone to get them to actually think about a topic, shouldn’t we do it?
Don’t forget that the Apostles were not well received in Rome when they began to preach the Gospel. St. Peter, our first pope was martyred in Rome. I speak from experience when I say that the south has not always been the most friendly to Catholics. But we cannot be afraid of persecution, rather we should embrace it. Rev. Barber used his first amendment right of free speech to defend his beliefs. We have to be willing to use ours to share the true message of Jesus and the Church and at the same time, we cannot be worried about offending some in the process.