Standing down is not an option! Join us on New Year’s Eve for a National Watch Night Service

In light of the challenges facing America, Repairers of the Breach will co-host a “Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign Watch Night Service” on New Year’s Eve.

Please join us on Dec. 31 at 10 p.m in Washington D.C. at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, 1518 M Street, NW.  – the site where the funerals of both Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass were held. If you're not in D.C. you can watch the service on the Repairers of the Breach livestream. Prior to the service, we hope you'll join us for a teach-in from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at National Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW. Click here to register. Click here to download the event flyer.

You can also find or organize a watch party in your community via Facebook.

The watch night service grows out of “The Revival: Time for A Moral Revolution of Values” national 22-state tour, and calls on the nation to resist extremism and join the movement to advance state-based moral public policy agendas. The social justice event welcomes all including people of faith and those who may not be persons of faith but who have deep moral convictions. 

During the service, three moral declarations will be outlined including:

  1. A call for people of conscience to make a moral decision to enlist in the fight against systemic racism, poverty, child poverty, extremism, denial of healthcare,  voter suppression, environmental injustice, xenophobia, unchecked militarism, homophobia, transphobia, and our current moment in history;
  2. A call for a race and poverty audit of America;
  3. A call for a national Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign in 2017 and 2018 demanding that we address systemic policy-based racism, poverty, healthcare, and xenophobia.

The service will include sermons and testimonies from leaders of various social justice struggles, as well as people who have been personally impacted by these social justice issues. Religious leaders will commit not to retreat in this moment, and to stand up for state-based moral public policy agendas.

Repairers of the Breach will be joined by Healing of the Nations Ministries, Union Theological Seminary, Auburn Seminary, School of the Conversion, and the Kairos Center for Rights, Religions, and Social Justice.

Click here to learn more about the New Year’s Eve Watch Night Service in Washington D.C. and please spread the word through your social media networks!

Thank you for everything you do to support the moral revival and the movement for justice. 

Download the Watch Night Service Flyer!

The Music That's Moving Us

Rev. William Barber speaks wth NewsOne about the importance of geting out the vote.

By The Rev. Dr. William Barber

If you’ve been to a Moral Revival service or a Moral Day of Action, you know how important music is to this movement.

Yara Allen, our ethno-musicologist, often teaches about how music shapes the memory of our bodies, telling us the truth that is down deep in our bones. “Ain’t Gonna Let No Body Turn Me ‘Round” is more than an anthem. It is the rhythm of our resistance to injustice. It is a cadence to remind us that the way things are is not the way things have to be.

The prophets of old knew that they could not bring a Word from the Lord without first inviting the minstrel to lead the people in song. Likewise, Dr. King knew he could not speak a prophetic word to the nation until Mahalia Jackson led the people in a song. “Tell ‘em about the Dream, Martin,” she said from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963. The words we most remember are words from a song: “Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almightly, I’m free at last!”

In the midst of our Revival tour, I got a call from Mr. Harry Bellafonte inviting me to come and preach at the Many Rivers Festival outside Atlanta, Georgia. We were preparing for back-to-back meetings in Indianapolis and Louisville, following a training and service the week before in Richmond, which I had to leave early to support the movement on the ground in Charlotte, North Carolina. I almost said we were too busy to come. 

But then I thought again about the role music plays in our movement. And I knew I needed to stand with the artists and song leaders who were gathering to sing freedom’s song.

I read from the prophet Daniel about how the Babylonian king set up a golden statue of himself and said everyone was to bow down when they heard the royal song. But three Hebrew children didn’t bow down. They refused and were thrown into a fiery furnace. But the fire didn’t burn them. And the people saw a fourth person standing with them in the flames.

When the king’s song said to bow, those children had a song in their spirits that told them to stand together.

If we ever needed those songs, we need them now. It did my spirit good to see 40,000 people in a Southern field, out under the night sky, singing along with Common and John Legend, Sweet Honey and the Rock and the Morehouse College Glee Club.

This Moral Revival has been about bringing the movement into the church house, the mosque and the synagogue. But it is also about bringing church into the public square—even out into a field. Because a movement is stirring, and we need true songs in our spirit to remind us that we must never bow to anything less than justice.

And we ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around.

Reclaiming Religious Liberty

"The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values" held a service in Cleveland on July 11, 2016. Marchers arrive at Quicken Loans Arena to present "Higher Ground Moral Declaration" to the RNC. (c) 2016 Dea Brayden/UUA.

"The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values" held a service in Cleveland on July 11, 2016. Marchers arrive at Quicken Loans Arena to present "Higher Ground Moral Declaration" to the RNC. (c) 2016 Dea Brayden/UUA.

By the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

From the New York Times to the Dallas Morning News, a mainstream consensus has emerged in the 2016 Presidential race. This week, even USA Today weighed in: Donald Trump is a real danger to America.

But Trumpism has not become a legitimate threat to American democracy because of Donald Trump. Despite the best efforts of the Republican Party and his revolving door of campaign managers, Trump is bent on self-destruction. But the Trump train continues in spite of its candidate because its twisted promise to “Make America Great Again” has been embraced by so-called “religious liberty” defenders.

No one embodies this embrace more prominently than Mike Pence, who will take the debate stage this Tuesday to defend Trump’s policy proposals. The polite and self-effacing governor of Indiana, Pence has been a hero of those who want to convince Christians that gay marriage and public accomodations for transgender people are somehow a threat to their religious freedom. Pence does not flaunt his wealth, boast of infidelity, or stoop to insult. But he is all the more dangerous because he endorses Trump’s extremism and defends his policy proposals with a smile on his face.

Pence gained national attention in 2015 when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, hallmark legislation for a national strategy designed to convince evangelical voters that their “values” had been attacked by the Obama administration and the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. Ignoring the gospel’s overwhelming concern for the poor, the sick, the immigrant and the incarcerated, this “evangelical outreach” has aimed to convince Christians that they face persecution simple because members of the LGBTQ community are guaranteed equal protection under the law.

Under pressure from the business community, Pence backed off from the most extreme demands of the RFRA, persuading the most extreme among the religious right that he had sold out. But several well-funded campaigns have continued this strategy of evangelical outreach, through traditional engines of the so-called “religious right,” like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, as well as new organizations, like My Faith Votes. Franklin Graham, heir to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has invested $10 million dollars in his Decision America tour, which is not designed to invite a personal decision for Jesus so much as a decision to embrace an understanding of “religious liberty” that turns the very notion against itself.

The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values is in Indiana today. We are going to Mike Pence’s home state—to Indianapolis, the city where I was born—to revive the heart of our democracy. But to do it, we must call people of faith together across religious and denominational lines to reclaim the true meaning of religious liberty.

Quakers, Puritans, Catholics and Baptists who were persecuted for their faith in Europe came to America in search of religious freedom. They knew that freedom of religion, above all else, meant freedom from any government that might try to write its own interpretation of God’s law into human law. Whether Americans agree with Mike Pence when it comes to the Bible’s definition of marriage should not be a political issue in America. The First Amendment guarantees him the right to believe whatever he wants. It also guarantees gay and transgendered people freedom from his religious beliefs.

But freedom of religion doesn’t only guarantee Americans freedom from others’ religious belief. It also guarantees the free exercise of faith. And the free exercise of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and a principled agnosticism is what The Revival is about.

In over a dozen cities across America, we have gathered people of various faiths to ask, “What is the moral heart of our traditions?” and, “What kind of policies does our faith inspire us to promote in the public square?”

Over 3,000 faith leaders have now signed our Higher Ground Moral Declaration, proclaiming a broad consensus that, while we may be both conservative and liberal, while we are Democrat, Republican and Independent, we can agree beyond partisan differences that an economy that lifts up the poor is moral. Public education that serves all people is moral. Access to healthcare is a moral issue. Criminal justice reform is a moral issue. Voting rights are a moral issue. Equal protection under the law, immigrant justice, environmetal protection and defense spending are all moral issues.

For far too long, the only religious voices in America’s public square have been those of Franklin Graham and James Dobson, rallying people to support the policies of politicians like Mike Pence. But however polite he may be in his presentation, Pence is just as wrong—and just as dangerous—as Trump. The so-called religious liberty advocates who back him are now driving the Trump train. We have a moral obligation to cry aloud and spare not. This is not what true religion looks like. There is a better way. We can move forward together toward higher ground.

The Revival Heads to Virginia

The Rev. Dr. James Forbes Jr., co-founder of "The Revival," speaks at the Houston revival service.

The Rev. Dr. James Forbes Jr., co-founder of "The Revival," speaks at the Houston revival service.

By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

A week ago tonight, we were in Kansas City, MO, for The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values. Local leaders had organized a strong witness at the Missouri state house just a week before, highlighting how the governor and legislature have worked together to pass policies which they frame as righteous though they hurt the most vulnerable. I thought of the quote from Corretta Scott King, when they asked her about the violence that had killed her husband.

“I must remind you,” she replied, “that starving a child is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.” The violence of refusing to expand Medicaid is killing hundreds of people each year in Missouri. The violence of voter suppression is more than an insult to the children of people who fought and died for the Voting Rights Act. It is an act of provocation—a smack in the face.

I hadn’t even made it back home on Tuesday before I learned that a police officer in Charlotte, NC, had shot and killed Keith Scott. Protests irrupted immediately, and some provocateurs responded to aggressive policing with violence and looting. Officials immediately condemned the violence. But only the violence of the provocateurs. Not the systemic violence that weighs on poor, African-American communities like the one where Mr. Scott lived.

It was a long week in Charlotte, and we’ve worked hard both to support the strong, local organizing by partners on the ground and to challenge false narratives aimed to serve politicians’ self-interest. I spoke about this recently in the New York Times and NPR

I’m tired of watching the turmoil of those who are blamed for their own suffering and grief, often by the very people who stand in the way of the justice they need.

But I’m also encouraged. Because despite the tear gas and the riot gear, thousands of people in Charlotte are standing together and marching together. They are black, white and brown. They are rich and they are poor. They are gay and they are straight. They are people of faith and they are people without faith who still believe in a moral universe. This week, I’ve watched Charlotte clergy who were with us in Raleigh for the Moral Day of Action two weeks ago lead their community in a faithful, nonviolent insistence that any government, which does not serve all its people must be changed. They are not protesting against Charlotte’s police and it’s leaders. They are protesting for them—working and praying together for a city that can dwell together in peace.

Tonight, our Moral Revival goes to Richmond, Virginia. I am staying with the community in Charlotte, but the Rev. Dr. Forbes will preach and we will hear from people who are hurting across Virginia during the most watched presidential debate in US history. Whatever happens in the debate, the people who are impacted by state and federal policies are what this election is really about. In synagogues and churches, at state houses and in the streets, people are coming together like never before in fusion coalitions that demand a moral agenda for the common good. These are the people who are going to change the political conversation in America. These are the people who are laying the groundwork for a Third Reconstruction. These are the people who give me hope that we can, in fact, become a more prefect union in November and beyond.

The Power of Moving Together

The Power of Moving Together

On Monday Sept. 12, thousands of clergy took one step forward together toward what Dr. King called a “moral revolution of values.” In 30 state capitols and the District of Columbia, rabbis, imams, priests and preachers stood with people impacted by unjust policies to publicly declare that some issues are not left versus right, but right versus wrong.

The Heart of Policy Exposes True Intent

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City on Sept 1, 2016, to speak with a gathering of national religious and faith leaders. These leaders are speaking out against the divisive policies and rhetoric being used in the Presidential campaign against Blacks, poor Whites, and Latinos. In his discussion, Dr. Barber directly refutes the current cynical appeal made recently by Donald Trump when Trump asks,  “What have you got to lose?”

Rev. Barber points out, “We know better than anyone that poison, which is not so much what is in your heart  as what is in your policies. “

Rev. Barber goes on to link the creation of the Southern Strategy by the Republican strategists in the 1960’s —  and its subsequent deployment by Nixon, Reagan, and Bush in order to instill fear and divisiveness in the public discourse —  with the tactics being practiced by Donald Trump in the current presidential campaign. 

“Trump is attempting to pivot from months of race-baiting and inflammatory language. As with the Southern Strategy of his predecessors, his focus is to court fearful whites with coded language and fear-mongering while avoiding the stigma of overt racism.”

“Just as the Southern Strategy focused on creating disdain for the social programs that were targeted to lift people out of poverty, so Trump’s question, ‘What have you got to lose?’ is an insult to Blacks and poor white America.”

“There are millions more poor white people than the total number of black people in this country. The worst lie of our time is that extreme policies do not equally hurt poor white people in gaining access to health care, housing, voting rights, in the ability to earn a living wage and to receive a quality public education.”

As Rev. Barber counsels,  "No matter what you say, it is your policies that tell where your heart lies." 

As Rev. Barber counsels,  "No matter what you say, it is your policies that tell where your heart lies." 

“Racism is not simply prejudice, it is the ability to implement policies” that hurt targeted demographics. 

Dr. Barber repeatedly asks, “What is it that causes people to vote against their own self-interest?”  He suggests that the answer lies in a grownup conversation on how people treat and lift up others around them.

Dr. Barber concludes that, “When we know where your treasure is —  your policies on health care, education, immigration, gender issues, equal protection under the law, environmental stewardship —  then we will know where your heart is. If the heart of your policies are far from the things that deal with eradicating injustice, then no matter what you say, it is the policies you espouse that tell the true story in your heart.”