It’s appropriate that the News & Observer’s tribute to Will Campbell is on the same day that clergy lead the Moral Monday protests. Brother Will would have approved. As a preacher during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, he supported sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience to change society.
He would also believe in using the clergy to engage a broader audience. Religious leaders bring a unique perspective to the protests and also start to put the message of Moral Monday into focus. Now, the protests are FOR something, protecting “the poor, the aging and children,” instead of merely opposing GOP policies.
For too long the religious perspective in politics, especially in the South, has been dominated by the Old Testament preachers threatening Hell and damnation for a multitude of sins that many of us don’t consider sins. Those preachers took over the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s and along with the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson turned evangelicalism into a political movement instead of a religious one. Along the way, they alienated a moderate, more urban and diverse middle-class and drove people like Will Campbell out of the church.
It’s high time that religious leaders jumped into the fray on behalf of those who can least defend themselves. Jesus lived among the poor, the sick and the outcasts of society. He stood up to powerful institutions who oppressed and took advantage of them. He may have died for your sins; that depends upon your beliefs. But he was arrested for speaking truth to power. That’s beyond debate. It’s about time our religious leaders follow his example.