Poor People's Campaign

April 16, 2021

Christian leaders representing hundreds of thousands across the country joined the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival on Thursday in a press conference and release of a joint statement that calls on the White House and Congress to end the filibuster and quickly pass legislation to protect voting rights and protect democracy and ensure a living minimum wage.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, called out supporters of the filibuster as advocates or enablers “of systemic racism, voter suppression, greed, the denial of health care, and the denial of living wages.”  

“The filibuster is a centerpiece of the arcane, obstructionist rules of the United States Senate. It bars that body from the deliberative role it is supposed to have,” Barber said. “The filibuster discourages public debate. It impedes the public’s capacity to find out whether or not their elected representatives are blocking legislation that would serve them and lift them up. The filibuster creates an impoverished democracy.”

Faith leaders who took part in Thursday’s conference and signed the Pastoral Letter to the Nation said they recognize the urgency for moral policies to be passed. The letter, which will be sent to the U.S. Senate, states in part:

“Many people have supported the filibuster as a procedural rule that promotes bi-partisanship by encouraging Senators to work across the aisle in pursuit of policies that benefit all Americans. While this may be a noble ideal, the sad reality is that the filibuster has been used over and again to subvert democracy by denying the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who want to protect the promise of unfettered access to ballot for every American. The filibuster must step aside so that democracy can survive.” 

OTHER COMMENTS:

Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale, Senior Pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, GA 
“History is replete with examples of how this simple procedural mechanism has been used as a tool against, rather than for, democracy. It has blocked the legislation that would help the people that we all serve, such as voting rights, economic justice, health care and common-sense gun laws.”

“As churches, we work to impact this world and transform it into the kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God, there is no poverty, no violence, no hunger, no suppression of voting rights or any other rights. It is our vision that our nation and world would begin, even now, to become what God designed and created it to be — His kingdom, here on earth. God needs all of us to make it so.”

Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes, III, Senior Pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church, Dallas, TX 
“The filibuster and voter suppression bills across the country have been united in unholy wedlock and yet having the nerve to be dressed up in a tuxedo of political respectability…It’s morally reprehensible, it’s democratically unsustainable and we have a clear choice in this battle. Will we have a government by the few for the few or will we have a government by the people and for the people?”

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-Chair Poor People’s Campaign and Director, Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice 
“As a white Christian, as a pastor, and a biblical scholar I’m motivated to speak out against using the filibuster in this country to filibuster democracy, to the filibuster the expansion and protection of voting rights, to filibuster living wages and healthcare and housing and adequate guaranteed incomes and debt cancellation and water and sanitation and housing rights and so much more.” 

“Our sacred texts are clear that those in positions of power are called to set forth laws that protect the poor; that impose fair taxation systems, that call for canceling debts, for paying living wages – that protect the voices and the demands of all people not just an elite select few who are rich and white and powerful.”

“We must end the filibuster, we must do this to save the soul of our democracy. We must do this to stand against racism and poverty and ecological devastation and militarism and this distorted, false moral narrative of Christian nationalism and we must do it now.”

Rev. Dr. Reginald Buckley, Senior Pastor, Cade Chapel Baptist Church, Jackson, MS 
“When that which was created with noble intentions is used intentionally for dubious purposes there is a moral obligation to call it out, correct it, and if necessary dismantle it. Jesus does exactly this when he enters the temple saying, “My father’s house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” 

“The filibuster very well began with noble intent but it has been made into something that robs, kills, and destroys the potential for human flourishing in this country. Rather than a tool to break through partisan wranglings lawmakers have turned it into a weapon that is welded to threaten, to bully, the kind of transformational legislation that would work to make this Nation a more perfect union.”

“When anti-lynching legislation came before the Congress it was filibuster, giving with James Weldon Johnson called “a license for mobs to lynch unmolested.” When Civil Rights legislation came before Congress it was filibustered keeping the entrenchment of white supremacy solidly in place.When voting rights legislation for Blacks came before Congress, it was filibustered, keeping black voices silenced and unable to participate in the franchise.”

“In every significant moment in history when advances were being made to create a more perfect union, the filibuster kept that stated goal from being completely realized. And while they filibustered, Bllack bodies were lynched throughout the American south. While they filibustered, rights were withheld, futures were denied, and disparities grew wider. While they filibustered, freedom and justice remained the reality of but a privileged few.”

Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove, Minister of Ministries Across Generations for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
“A filibuster diminishes the importance of what it requires to be a just and loving community where all voices seek to have great value.” 

“We as Americans should expect our adult leaders to not shortchange the processes of democratic engagement. I hope our country can profoundly live more faithfully, justly, lovingly, and freely; but a filibuster is a non-constitutional practice that allows a small group of people to behave like bullies and permit them to change the dynamic of the entire playground.”

Rev. Dr. J. Lawrence Turner, Senior Pastor of The BLVD Christian Church, Memphis, TN 
“[The filibuster] has been used deliberately and with great intention to hijack a democracy and nullify the will of the American people. This is not only unfair and unjust, it is immoral. This is why, as a faith leader, I am compelled to speak up and speak out calling for the filibuster to be eliminated. The times that we live in call for moral courage from those who represent us in the U.S. Senate. Not only is the soul of our democracy in peril, but the fundamental ideals on which our country was founded, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are still unrealized. Now more than ever we need the legislative branch to pass policy that can restore and redeem the soul of our nation.”

Rev. Dr. Nancy Petty, Senior Pastor, Pullen Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC
“As a gay person living in America, I’m not free until all my brothers and sisters who experienced discrimination and oppression are free. The Prophet Micah was real clear:  What does God require of us but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly. Eliminating the filibuster is a justice issue, it is a compassionate [and] kindness issue and we must end it now.”

Bishop Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor of City of Refuge UCC, Oakland, CA
“I am amazed at how religion and faith will use all of God’s names and all of God’s manifestations to weaponize the rights of people when faith is to be the panacea for peace.  It’s incredibly important that we as people of faith stand together and bring into this atmosphere the kind of presence of the Divine that will create not only incredible and powerful opportunities for justice but will push back against things like the unjust and wicked filibuster.”

For additional information: poorpeoplescampaign.org  https://youtu.be/PmOjcUoDhEs

Twitter: @unitethepoor / Instagram: @poorpeoplescampaign / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ANewPPC 


CONTACT: 
Martha Waggoner | mwaggoner@breachrepairers.org  | 919-295-0802