taking the words of Jesus seriously


Since April 4th of this year, I’ve been traveling America with The Revival: Time for A Moral Revolution of Values. With my colleagues Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes, Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, and Sister Simone Campbell, I have tried to hold up the deepest values of our faith traditions and our Constitution across this land. I have trained thousands of faith leaders in moral, fusion organizing and they have gone out into their communities and filled churches and synagogues with people who are tired of the left versus right political discourse in this country. Over 10, 000 people have responded to our altar call and signed the Higher Ground Moral Declaration, which lays out a vision for moral policy that establishes justice and promotes the welfare of all people.


When you’ve been preaching as long as I have, you learn to see in people’s eyes when the Word you’re proclaiming is bringing life. Every night on this tour, I’ve gone to sleep with the faces of people coming to life in my mind’s eye. It’s been a constant encouragement to see with my own eyes a revival in the land.


But a preacher knows that it’s not the words you say that keep you going, but the Word you hear. I’ve preached, taught, written articles or given interviews every day for the past five months. But as I’ve sat in silence with God’s Word early each morning, the 22nd chapter of Jeremiah has been speaking to me.


“This is what the LORD says: “Go down to the palace of the king… and proclaim this message there…” (Jer. 22:1).


God has given us a message to revive the heart of America. We know that moral dissent can transcend our narrow political framework and bring people together in fusion coalitions that work across old dividing lines for the common good. Moral analysis leads to moral action that will lead us toward the higher ground of a moral public policy. American needs nothing less than a Third Reconstruction to complete the unfinished work of equal justice for all. But this is not just a dream. We already see it emerging.


I’ve had the chance to preach this good news from pulpits where Dr. King and Desmond Tutu preached. I’ve shared it with thousands of people at national conventions and at rallies on America’s streets. I’ve written it in national newspapers and magazines and I have done my best to explain it on national television. After years of listening to my kids talk about Twitter,  I’ve even tried to tweet this good news to America.


But the prophet Jeremiah keeps telling me it’s not enough. It’s not enough to preach a sermon or write an article, to give an interview or tweet a hashtag. The prophet says, “You’ve got to go down to the King’s house.”


When it comes to public policy, the battle for the soul of America is happening in state houses. It’s the state legislatures that are blocking health care and trying to roll back voting rights. They’re the ones who won’t allow a referendum on living wages. If you put that on the ballot in most any state, it would win.


When Jeremiah says, “Go down to the King’s house, ” I hear him saying, “Take this moral agenda for public policy to America’s state capitols. In this election year, take it to sitting governors and to their challengers. Take it to the leadership of state legislatures.”


We’ve had some powerful revival meetings in the church house. But now it’s time to go down to the statehouse.


On September 12th, at 11am in state capitols across America, we are going to go down to the King’s house and proclaim this message. Local leadership in 22 states have committed to engage in this shared day of National Moral Action. We the people are going to the seats of power across this land to stand together and say that a government of the people and by the people needs a moral reset. We must repent of the selfishness and fear that have led to intolerable inequality, and we must pledge to move forward together toward higher ground.


I hope you’ll join me and the local leadership of the National Moral Action in your state by going down to your state capitol at 11am on Monday, September 12th. For more information see: http://www.moralrevival.org/highergroundmoraldayofaction


This post first appeared on the Repairers of the Breach blog.


About The Author


The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church and President of Repairers of the Breach. He has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, since 2006 and sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors. A former Mel King Fellow at MIT, he is currently Visiting Professor of Public Theology and Activism at Union Theological Seminary and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary. Rev. Barber is author of the best-selling The Third Reconstruction: How A Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear.

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