The Moral Revival conceived by Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. James Forbes ...is moving across America.
Beginning in April of this year in New York, the revival has so far been in Raleigh, NC, Atlanta, GA, and Birmingham, AL. Churches are filled with people of all races, religions and ethnicities. The revival seeks to draw people to what binds them together, not set them apart.
In addition to the revival sermons, which come from not only Barber and Forbes, but also Rev. Traci Blackmon and Sister Simone Campbell, the services include the testimonies of people who are suffering because of policies of a government which, says Barber, "needs a heart transplant."
In Atlanta, a young woman gave a passionate testimony about what it is like being the child of undocumented parents. Her riveting story included how being called an "illegal alien" was dehumanizing; she shared how she has had to learn how to identify unmarked police cars which consistently patrolled her neighborhood, and how, though she is an excellent student, was denied admission into the top five universities Georgia's public universities - the same universities, she noted, that denied admission to black students in the 60s. Other universities in the state would admit her, she said, but would charge her out of state tuition, which is three times more than in-state tuition. The young woman ended up attending Freedom University, based in Atlanta, which provides tuition-free education for students, as well as social justice leadership training.
Another woman, a grandmother, broke down as she shared how she works at Burger King for $7.25 an hour, not enough for her to make ends meet, let alone have enough money to pay for necessary meds for her chronic medical issues. She said she needs to make $15 an hour and needs the protection of a union. Yet another person testified who had been incarcerated testified as to how the society makes it nearly impossible for those who are released from prison to survive once they get out, causing massive recidivism, and another young woman shared how Islamophobia is affecting her life and the lives of her family and friends.
The revival, going from city to city, is not being conducted as mere religious services, but more as events to shake the consciousness of people who may or may not know the plight of great numbers of Americans. In addition to having the religious services, the Moral Revival will be training people to engage in social protest, and is asking people to sign what they are calling the "Higher Ground Moral Declaration." (http://www.moralrevival.org/signmoraldeclaration/) The masses of people are hurting, say the revival conveners, which is part of the reason why Donald Trump's rhetoric has not dissuaded people from supporting him. People want relief from misery, Barber says, and America's policies as they are, far from alleviating the misery, are only increasing them.
Forgetting "the least of these" is not an option for people who believe in God, says Barber. At a recent worship service in New York at Abyssinian Baptist Church, he shared that America may be losing some of its best talent by ignoring those who governments have forgotten and sidelined.
"We can't afford not to care about and for the masses that are suffering," he said.