Raleigh 'Moral March' Uses Religion to Justify Liberal Anger at Trump
On Saturday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina, in a so-called "Moral March" to oppose the "hate" of both President Donald Trump and the conservative movement in general.
"God cares about the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, the stranger," declared the Reverend Dr. William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Breach Repairers and organizer of the event. "When so-called white evangelicals misuse and misinterpret the scripture to promote hate, standing down is not an option."
What does Barber mean by "promoting hate"? That's where his declaration that God loves the poor — which He emphatically does — becomes political. The Breach Repairers website presented certain goals, including "challenge the version of the ultra-conservatives who have misinterpreted Christianity and other faith traditions as a faith that hates the poor." It further called for "effective messengers of the social gospel in places of worship, communities and workplaces who will understand the values at the heart of an anti-racism, anti-poverty, and the anti-extreme militarism movement."
But the messages at the "Moral March" and the partnership of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) spoke even more to the goals of Barber's movement.
According to the Facebook event page, hosted by the North Carolina NAACP, 6,300 people attended the event, while 7,300 marked themselves as "interested."
The crowd itself, as revealed in a video posted on the North Carolina NAACP's Twitter account, proved quite a hodgepodge. There was a sign reading "No Wall" on a white brick pattern. Another sign read "Protect Voting Rights," and there were multiple rainbow flag signs, including one reading "Y'all means All." Another sign read "Repeal HB2," a reference to the bathroom bill which designated non-single-stall restrooms to the use of only one sex. Another sign read, "Immigrants make America great."
Some marched to defend Obamacare.
The remarks of Rev. Barber were similarly disorganized and all over the place, as judged by the NAACP's persistent quoting. "Our electorate is growing more diverse& [sic] the wealthy oligarchy know they cannot stay in power in a pure democracy," Barber declared. He added, "There is an all-out attack on our democracy."
"This administration hates us because we are women, we are Muslim, we are queer, and we will not be quiet!" one speaker reportedly declared (it was unclear whom the NAACP was quoting here). This message, that the Trump administration "hates" these groups, made it abundantly clear that this was an anti-Trump march.
Similarly, the NAACP's hashtag, #moralresistance, identified the event with "the resistance," the name widely used to characterize protests against the Trump administration.
"We need to be moral defibrillators and shock the heart of America back to life!" the NAACP quoted Rev. Barber. But the only thing this group aims to "shock" into "the heart of America" is the same tired progressive agenda pushed by President Barack Obama and failed candidate Hillary Clinton.
Indeed, Repairers of the Breach released a petition asking President Trump to "advance a moral agenda." While the agenda claimed to present "the most sacred moral principles of our faith and constitutional values," it listed popular liberal talking points.
Agenda items included "protecting and expanding voting rights and ending voter suppression," along with "women's rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, religious freedom rights" — and that's just the first of five bullet points! Naturally, the petition did not explain these alleged "voter suppression" tactics, which might refer to the racist idea (denounced by many black leaders) that for some reason black people are unable to obtain driver's licenses.
The petition also calls for "pro-labor, anti-poverty, anti-racist policies that build up economic democracy through employment, living wages, the alleviation of disparate unemployment, a just transition away from fossil fuels, labor rights, affordable housing, direct cash transfers and other support for all families struggling to get by, and fair policies for immigrants." Not only are many of these self-contradictory (a minimum wage increase is extremely likely to depress job growth, for instance), but they refer to specific liberal policy initiatives which are not "moral" in and of themselves.
The petition also promotes "equality in education" including a "constitutionally diverse public education" (regardless of a family's right to homeschool their children), "moving decisively towards a universal, transparent, and equitable healthcare system" (despite the huge flaws in Bernie Sanders' socialized medicine scheme), and "fighting the proliferation of guns."
Naturally, the arguably least divisive issue is reserved for last: pushing fairness in the criminal justice system "by addressing the continuing inequalities in the system for black, brown and poor white people." Of all these issues, this one likely enjoys the most bipartisan support, despite the controversial nature of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Repairers of the Breach uses scripture to undergird their arguments, especially quoting Isaiah 58:12: "Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in."
Interestingly, this verse was well-chosen, as it comes in the context of God presenting true fasting. For example, verses 6 and 7 read, "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the traps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house?" If the Israelites do this, God will bless them — and the breach repairing promise comes as part of this blessing.
The problem is, this group and the thousands who turned out in Raleigh on Saturday are not repairing the breach, but using religious language to clothe their liberal progressive agenda in an aura of righteousness. Yes, it is Christians' duty to free the oppressed, to feed the hungry, and welcome the homeless. But that doesn't mean it is the government's job to do these things. Indeed, America has decades of evidence to prove that when the government engages in this kind of charity, poverty entrenches itself in dependency.
As the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, told the Christian Post back in 2013 (after 120 protesters involved with Rev. Barber's "Moral Mondays" were arrested), this movement is "socialism with a religious veneer."
The pastors then involved in "Moral Mondays" (and now at the "Moral March") "take certain passages of scripture about dealing with the poor and the needy that are meant to address individual responsibility, and apply them to the government." In Creech's view, charity is not only moral, it is obligatory. But government-sponsored charity is wrong.
Interestingly, Repairers of the Breach aims to "bring together clergy and lay people from different faith traditions, with people without a spiritual practice but who share the moral principles at the heart of the great moral teachings." Wait — don't liberals disagree with the idea of a "natural law" which unites human moralities? Where's the talk of moral relativism?
Also, I wonder how non-Christians (and especially atheists) respond to this kind of moral leadership. Wasn't the Left supposed to be the place to escape moral judgments?
This engendered some great snarky responses from conservatives. "The #MoralMarch, brought to you by the same people who spent the last 50 years telling us not to impose our morals on them," tweeted Matt Walsh.
"The left's collective hissy fit is degenerating into vague generalities," tweeted Paul Joseph Watson. "No specific focus, just tedious virtue-signalling [sic]. #MoralMarch"
Watson is right on here. What could be more evocative of "virtue signaling" than saying your particular policy positions are the only "moral" ones? Morality is not relative, but politics involves drawing policy conclusions from moral precepts. This movement does the opposite: it starts with the progressive agenda and uses vague notions of morality to defend it.