Commentary

Rev. Barber kicks off “revival tour” with successful event at Raleigh synagogue

Revival tourIf there’s a most hopeful and encouraging thing about the new brand of 21st Century “fusion politics” championed by Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP, it’s the way this man and the movement he leads are truly serious about being an always evolving and progressing, multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-faith effort.

The inspiring diversity of the “Forward Together Moral Movement” was on full display again last night at Raleigh’s Temple Beth Or synagogue as a large and diverse crowd in the hundreds gathered to help kick off a national “revival tour” that Barber and several other faith leaders from around the country have launched.

Last night’s event, which came on the heels of a similar one the day before at New York City’s Riverside Church, is part of a tour that will take Barber and his friends and allies into dozens of states around the country this spring and summer as they spread the word of what Barber calls “the Third Reconstruction.”

This is from the “Repairers of the Breach” website that has been constructed to support the effort:

“Repairers of the Breach, Inc. is a nonpartisan and ecumenical organization that seeks to build a progressive agenda rooted in a moral framework to counter the ultra-conservative constructs that try to dominate the public square. Repairers will help frame public policies which are not constrained or confined by the narrow tenets of neo-conservatism. Repairers will 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. Repairers will expand a ‘school of prophets’ who can broadly spread the vision of a nation that is just and loving.”

As is usually the case at events led by Barber, a Disciples of Christ minister, there were plenty of the trappings of the modern African-American church evident in the program — from the loud and joyful music to the testimonies offered by various speakers to the length (nearly three hours) of the event.

Still, however, as Barber also makes sure in the events he leads, there were plenty of efforts to make everyone feel welcome and a part of the movement — from the setting itself and the enthusiastic welcome of Rabbi Lucy Dinner to the inclusion of leaders from various faith traditions to the frequent references and statements of welcome directed to non-believers.

If there was symbol of how far the Moral Movement has come and how naturally and effectively is has become entwined with (and become a spearhead for) the progressive cause, however, it had to be the sight of scores of older, religious Americans — many of whom had probably never given serious consideration to the challenges faced by transgender citizens — rising in unison to decry North Carolina’s new discrimination law and to cheer a courageous 18 year old lesbian high school student from the North Carolina School of the Arts who offered one of the most eloquent testimonies of the evening. At one moment, Barber himself declared that “the God of justice is calling on us to come out of the closet!”

The event was, in short, all that its organizers had to have hoped for and yet another strong indication that Barber’s Moral Movement has continued to grow and mature in the just under three years since the remarkable summer of 2013.

In a story the other day in the Washington Post, reporter Jeff Guo explained how North Carolina’s new discrimination law and the constitutional challenges to which it has given rise may actually hasten the realization of equality for LGBT Americans. If last night’s event is any indication, something similar might well be said for the North Carolina’s right-wing political swing itself; that by helping to birth the Forward Together Moral Movement in North Carolina, its leaders may have actually helped spark a progressive uprising across the nation.

Stay tuned. It should be an interesting remainder of 2016. You can watch the event by clicking here.

 

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