Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why the Moral Justice Movement Rejects People Like Me

Because its most prominent leader thinks that only religious people have morals.

I admire Rev. William Barber.  What he's started in North Carolina and is spreading across the country is already a huge achievement and may turn out to be, indeed, the Third Reconstruction.

So I was eager to read his book of that name, to learn about the years-long organizing that led to Moral Mondays and how he drew hundreds of thousands of people to it in what Charlie Pierce calls "the consistently insane state of North Carolina."

Unfortunately, his own words in this book put the lie to his claims of having a truly "fusion" coalition that welcomes and values everyone.

The book jacket's summary describes the movement as uniting "black, white and brown, rich and poor, employed and unemployed, gay and straight, documented and undocumented, religious and secular." (my emphasis.)

But that's not how Barber himself describes it.  Rather, he writes that his coalition "welcomes people of all faiths, as well as those who struggle with faith."

He repeats that sentiment several times in the book, but never once uses the word "secular." Or "humanist." Or "agnostic." And of course never "atheist."

Is he really under the impression that seculars, humanists, agnostics and atheists "struggle with faith?"  Of course not.  He is an intelligent, educated, cosmopolitan man.  He uses "struggle with faith" deliberately and advisedly, to belittle and exclude those of us who do not share his baseless belief in an invisible sky wizard who runs the world.

He even used a prominent atheist to tell a monstrous lie on national television.  In an attempt to "fit in" on Bill Maher's show, he claimed he himself was an atheist because he didn't believe in the "god" of hating poor people, immigrants and "gay folks."

As atheists like to point out, "people of faith" disbelieve in tens of thousands of gods.  We just disbelieve in one more than they do. Barber adding the god of hate to his disbelief list of tens of thousands while keeping babby jeebus doesn't make him an atheist.

Of course there are seculars, humanists, agnostics and atheists in the moral justice movement, even the religious-only one Barber has established in North Carolina.

That's because we of no faith have always been the worker bees of every movement for justice - racial, economic, social, political, sexual, environmental and especially moral.

Because morality is not, never has been and never will be the exclusive province of the religious.

Not that the religious will ever admit that.

So we the moral godless toil anonymously in the movement, unacknowledged at best, disrespected and despised at worst.

Shame on you, Rev. Barber.  Without the moral godless, your movement would have died in the cradle.

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