HIGHER GROUND MORAL DECLARATION
It is time to move beyond left and right, liberal and conservative, and uphold higher ground moral values!
Call to Action for a Moral Agenda
On April 4, 1967, just one year before his assassination, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called for a time to break the silence about the injustices in society. At the historic Riverside Church, he preached, “we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.” He proclaimed that silence was betrayal – the truth must be told.
Rev. Dr. King’s charge for a revolution of values echoes the cries of the prophets to stand up for justice, righteousness, and the dignity of all throughout the ages.
“If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.” (Isaiah 58)
“The believers, both men and women are in charge of and responsible for one another; they all enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong.” (Qu’ran 9:71)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
We declare that if silence was betrayal then, revival is necessary today.
Nearly 50 years after Rev. Dr. King’s call to break the silence, poverty, inequality, and systemic racism are rampant, voting rights and democracy are being trampled, millions of people lack the health care, living wage jobs, and quality education they need, and racism, hatred, and bigotry are disintegrating any possibility for life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness for everyone in these United States.
Following moral traditions rooted in our faith and the Constitution, we are called to stand up for justice and tell the truth. We challenge the position that the preeminent moral issues today are about prayer in public schools, abortion, and homosexuality. Instead, we declare the deepest public concerns of our faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.
Together, we lift up and defend the most sacred moral principles of our faith and constitutional values, which are:
- Pro-labor, anti-poverty, anti-racist policies that build up economic democracy through employment, living wages, the alleviation of disparate unemployment, a just transition away from fossil fuels, labor rights, affordable housing, direct cash transfers and other support for all families struggling to get by, and fair policies for immigrants; and by critiquing policies around warmongering that undermine our moral standing and ability to address domestic issues;
- Equality in education by ensuring every child receives a high quality, well-funded, constitutionally diverse public education, as well as access to community colleges and universities and by securing equitable funding for minority colleges and universities;
- Healthcare for all by expanding Medicaid in every state, ensuring access to Medicare and Social Security, moving decisively towards a universal, transparent, and equitable healthcare system, and by providing environmental protection and protecting women’s health;
- Fairness in the criminal justice system by addressing the continuing inequalities in the system for black, brown and poor white people and fighting the proliferation of guns;
- Voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, labor rights, religious freedom rights, immigrant rights and the fundamental principle of equal protection under the law.
We believe our moral traditions have a firm foundation upon which to stand against the divide-and-conquer strategies of extremists. We believe in a moral agenda that stands against systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family. We claim a higher ground in partisan debate by returning public discourse to our deepest moral and constitutional values.
The Higher Ground Moral Declaration provides a moral agenda for our nation. To affirm your agreement with this declaration, we invite you to do four things:
Join community leaders, pastors, and scholars in declaring inequality, poverty, voter suppression, environmental abuse, racism and xenophobia immoral and unacceptable by signing this moral declaration
Take this moral declaration to every candidate for President, the U.S. Senate, Congress and state Governor
Sign a personal pledge to lead direct actions in your state on three consecutive Mondays in September to promote this agenda
Pray for The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values
We are seeking a revolution of moral values. We declare yes to justice and equality.
A Moral Grounding in Scripture and Our Founding Creed
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:9
Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Constitution of the United States, 14 Amendment, Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
Preamble of the Constitution of the United States. We the People of the United States, in Order to promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
A National Revival and a Moral Revolution of Values
The Higher Ground Moral Declaration coincides with the launching of a National Revival Tour to Redefine Morality in American Politics. Rev. Dr. William Barber II, President and Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, architect of the Forward Together Moral Mondays Movement, and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church and the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, National Minister of the Drum Major Institute, President of Healing of the Nations Ministries, and Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church have been invited to travel throughout the nation to lead The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values. Along the way, they will be joined by Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Director of the UCC Justice and Witness and Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, as well as other Jewish, Muslim and moral leaders.
The Revival aims to be a catalyst for renewed moral activism among faith and community leaders. The first leg of the tour will cover 15 states and the District of Columbia, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, and Washington DC, from April 2016 through January 2017.
“In reference to the Vietnam War in his 1967 sermon, Dr. King told the nation that ‘silence was betrayal,’” Rev. Barber said. “If silence was betrayal in the 1960s, revival is a necessity in 2016. Way too much of our national discourse has been poisoned by hateful language and policies. The extremists see nothing wrong with insulting the poor, the sick, our children, immigrants, communities of color, voting rights, women, LGBTQ people, the environment and religious minorities with their language and their policies. True faith and true evangelicalism place love, justice, and compassion at the center of our public life.”
“In working toward a spiritual and political renewal of the nation, our multi-state tour is focused on a revolution of moral values,” said Rev. Forbes. “By morality, we mean governing for the good of the whole, not for the good of a destructive few. In the tradition of the great prophets, a revival is about stirring up the faithful; restoring believers to a place of maximum impact. Our tour is about preparing leaders of faith to go to the public square and provide a strong moral voice and witness against the extremists’ rhetoric and policies.”
This Higher Ground Moral Declaration provides a moral agenda for our nation on issues including: democracy and voting rights; poverty and economic justice; workers’ rights; education; healthcare; environmental justice; immigrant rights and challenging xenophobia; criminal justice; LGBTQ rights; and war-mongering and the military. For each issue area, an individual moral and constitutional foundation is established. The positions are neither left nor right, nor conservative or liberal. Rather, they are morally defensible, constitutionally consistent, and economically sound. Most importantly, they represent, as Dr. King urged, a revolution in values.