Ministers to Our Tattered Democracy

Something is deeply wrong when the leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Disciples of Christ, Union for Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ, and the Unitarian Universalist Association are ordered to leave the US Capitol for praying on behalf of the poor. On Monday, Dec. 4, Rev. Denise Anderson, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Rev. Traci Blackmon and Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray — accompanied by dozens of other clergy — gathered for prayer under the Capitol dome to launch the new Poor People’s Campaign. As Rev. William J Barber II led the group in prayer, police officers gave an ultimatum: leave the Capitol or be arrested.
Clockwise from top left: Rev. Denise Anderson, Susan Frederick-Gray, Traci Blackmon, Jonah Pesner, Teresa Hord Owens
It’s a fitting start to a campaign that’s planning the coordinated civil disobedience of more than 25,000 people this spring. This new Poor People’s Campaign resurrects the movement Martin Luther King Jr. began in 1967, cut tragically short by his assassination, and applies his ethos of non-violent yet confrontational love to a modern and robust policy platform. This present-day incarnation is co-directed by Rev. Barber, Union visiting Professor of Public Theology & Activism, and Rev. Liz Theoharis, Co-Director of Union’s Kairos Center. While the campaign most overtly addresses the plight of the over 45 million Americans who live in poverty, its bold agenda also aims to confront the white supremacy, environmental destruction, voter suppression, and unchecked militarism that ravage our nation.
Initially, the group requested a meeting with the

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