Moral Monday rally
Rev. Dr. William Barber of the NC NAACP speaking at a June 2013 Moral Monday rally at the state legislature. He and other movement leaders are circulating an open letter asking Gov. Pat McCrory to convene a "Special Redemption Session" to reverse decisions controversial decisions about Medicaid and emergency aid for the long-term unemployed. (Photo by T.W. Buckner via Flickr.)

NC Moral Monday activists call on governor to convene special legislative session

Moral Monday activists in North Carolina are inviting the public to sign a letter asking Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to convene a "Special Redemption Session" of the legislature to reverse recent decisions denying Medicaid expansion and cutting unemployment benefits.

The letter was written by clergy who were among the over 900 people arrested earlier this year during the Moral Monday protests organized by the state NAACP. Those weekly protests began in April and drew thousands of citizens to the state legislature to rally against an agenda that included cuts to social safety net programs and restrictions on voting rights.

The letter's original authors -- state NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber; Rev. Dr. William Turner, a Duke University professor and pastor of Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham, N.C.; Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler, a professor at Union Presbyterian Seminary and a pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.; and Elder Carrie Bolton of the United Holy Church and a former professor at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. -- brought the letter to the NC NAACP's annual convention, where it was unanimously endorsed by over 600 delegates and friends.

They are now circulating the letter publicly and inviting all North Carolinians who agree with its requests to sign on. They plan to deliver it to McCrory on Nov. 27 -- the day before Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah.

"Our state's policies and practices are being weighed on the scales of justice," the letter states. "They, and all of us who stand on the sidelines and watch them go into effect without raising our voices, are judged on the criteria established in our faith traditions and the principles in our documents which first constituted our nation and state. No matter which measure of human decency is used, our moral profile is a scandal. We ask you to focus on two of the most arrogant and hurtful policies you supported and approved."

Earlier this year, North Carolina's Republican supermajority-controlled legislature voted against expanding the Medicaid public health insurance program for low-income people -- as did every state in the Deep South except for Arkansas. As part of its strategy for securing health insurance coverage for more Americans, the Affordable Care Act allowed states to expand Medicaid, with the federal government promising to cover the full cost of the expansion for the first three years and at least 90 percent of the cost thereafter. As a result of the legislature's decision, which McCrory endorsed, 500,000 North Carolinians who would have been eligible for Medicaid under the expansion will miss out on coverage.

"The denial of health care is not because of their inability to pay or their lack of concern for their health," the letter states. "Rather it is caused by their own government!"

The letter also criticizes the legislature's decision to end the federal emergency unemployment compensation program, which led to an estimated 170,000 jobless North Carolinians losing access to benefits this year. Lawmakers did so by cutting the maximum weekly benefit level from $535 to $350. States that cut the average weekly benefit lost access to the federal emergency funds.

North Carolina, which currently has the nation's sixth-highest unemployment rate at 8.7 percent, was the only state to cut off access to the program. The decision resulted in the state missing out on an estimated $600 million in federal benefits, with a total estimated economic impact of $1.2 billion, according to a report by the N.C. Budget and Tax Center.

"You have the power to address these two inhumane policies," the letter says. "We respectfully request that you call a Special Redemption Session of the Legislature, and use your powers to guide them out of the ideological and moral dead-ends of these dumb inhumane policies."

The letter also invites McCrory to join in a Moral Monday Service of Redemption scheduled for Dec. 23, 2013 at the State Capitol in Raleigh. The event is open to the public.

So far more than 300 people have signed the letter.

UPDATE 10/29/2013: As calls mounted for McCrory to convene a special legislative session on Medicaid expansion and the emergency unemployment program, the governor issued a statement saying that "[c]alling a special session to further expand Obamacare in North Carolina is out of the question." However, the Oct. 28 release did not mention the unemployment issue. Meanwhile, the letter asking McCrory to convene the special session now has over 400 signatures.

Image: 
Rev. Dr. William Barber of the NC NAACP speaking at a June 2013 Moral Monday rally at the state legislature. He and other movement leaders are circulating an open letter asking Gov. Pat McCrory to convene a "Special Redemption Session" to reverse decisions controversial decisions about Medicaid and emergency aid for the long-term unemployed. (Photo by T.W. Buckner via Flickr.)
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GOPTea lacking compassion and moral center

The GOPTea party in North Carolina has shown its lack of compassion for the poor and its lack of interest in serving the people...all of the people...in the districts they are supposed to serve through the extreme legislation they passed this year. The pain they have caused multiplies each day and will only get worse as more are hungry and homeless and sick in the coming winter months.

Withholding basic healthcare by preventing access to it, starving people who have no other source of food, not providing support to those who cannot find work...these are not the actions of a caring concerned government. Gerrymandering districts to insure that people with whom you do not agree or of whom you disapprove does not serve justice. These are reprehensible actions that further divide people and create situations that are ripe for misery and hopelessness. These are the origins of violence and insurrection by the poor against the rich throughout history.
As a person of faith, I find their uncharitable actions and often hate-filled rhetoric disturbing. These things seem more representative of the Fascists of World War II, the Middle Ages' fiefs, the dynasties of ancient Near and Far Eastern nations, and the extreme fundamentalists of so many religions at home and abroad today.

The professions of piety from so many of them, especially when used to justify ill-informed and unjust acts that harm many and deny basic civil rights to most, leaves me questioning if there are indeed any religious institutions willing to claim these individuals as members. Are there Christian faiths, for instance, that are willing to overlook Matthew 25:40: "And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'" I find that unlikely.

I find the callousness of some of the other posts here, the dismissive tone towards those in need, unpalatable.

Who signed?

Would love to see the list of people who signed this letter. Want to bet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are there? Oh, that's right there's no such thing as "fraud" in North Carolina !

NC Republicans' bad policies

Gov McCrory & his Republican-controlled gov't are a disgrace. Makes me ashamed. More power to Dr Barber & other leaders working to help change bad policies in NC.

Special Redemption Session

I would think that this petition will garner at least 900 signatures, the number that McCrory had ordered arrested. Oh, wait, "more than 400" might be 900, right? Given the discrepancy between a "population of 10,000,000" and a "population of 19,000,000," I'm thinking these two talking heads must be products of TPublican educational goals. Where do I sign!

Only 400 out of 10,000,000?

Wow! 400 signatures out of 10,000,000+ citizens of North Carolina

Moral Monday demands

The demands made by Barber and his paid cohorts are at best laughable. The petition calling for a special session now has over 400 signatures. I'd say that out of 19 million that's a pretty insignificant number. If there wasn't so much special interest money, so many paid participants, and the obvious liberal media bias of WRAL and the N&O, these protest would have fizzled long ago into the dustbin of irrelevance.

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