Hundreds of interfaith leaders stood ready to face arrest outside the White House on Wednesday where they delivered a “moral indictment to an immoral administration.”
The march and rally, dubbed Moral Witness Wednesday, was organized to denounce the President Donald Trump administration’s cruel and unjust policies including the detaining of migrant children and attacks on healthcare access. Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center, initially conceived of the action, organizations say.
In a tweet ahead of the protest, Barber, who’s also president of social justice group Repairers of the Breach and a co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, explained the motivation for the action: “Jeremiah 22 tells us that when political leaders abuse their office & hurt the poor, we must show up in person to deliver a prophetic indictment. Now is the time. Join us June 12.”
Other religious leaders taking part include Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign; Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, Ameer/president of The Muslim Alliance in North America; and Rabbi Esther Lederman, director of Communities of Practice and Congregational Innovation for the Union of Reform Judaism.
At the gates of the White House, the activists delivered signed petitions, which state, in part:
Addressing the support that Trump has from some leaders in the evangelical Christian community, Barber told the Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday that such backing must not go unchallenged.
The “Trump administration—I never say just Trump, because he’s not by himself—has violated everything that Jesus said ought to be the first priority of nations,” Barber said.
“And so it grieves me that brothers and sisters who claim to follow Jesus would do this and would be so loud on things that Jesus is so quiet about and so quiet on the very thing Jesus is so loud about,” Barber told the Post. “And that’s why it must be challenged. It cannot be allowed to just exist and be called evangelicalism when many times it is a form of heresy.”
The White House rally comes ahead of another Washington, D.C. action—next week’s Moral Action Congress, a strategizing conference led by the Poor People’s Campaign.
The three-day event will feature the rollout of the social justice group’s “Moral Budget” as well as a forum where some of the 2020 presidential hopefuls will take questions from anti-poverty activists.
Politico reports that seven candidates will appear at the forum, including Joe Biden, as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.
“We cannot have another election cycle like we had in 2016, where we had 26 presidential debates in the primary and general election,” said Barber, “and not one focused on systemic voter suppression and gerrymandering, and not one focused on poverty.”