The Raleigh, N.C. police arrested 120 protestors Monday involved in "Moral Mondays," a weekly protest that takes place on Mondays against the Republican-controlled state legislature's budget cut. The uproar has raised the question among the Christian community of whether giving to the poor is a private or a government responsibility.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, denounced the Moral Mondays movement as "socialism with a religious veneer." In an interview with The Christian Post, he said, "I don't see anything moral about Moral Mondays."
He defended the current efforts of Republicans in the state house and senate. "I think it would be immoral if the same course of taxing and spending were continued and the opinions of voters ignored," he said.
"These are lean times, requiring extraordinary character." He compared the crisis to "a doctor treating a patient," explaining that "sometimes there has to be suffering for healing." He expressed confidence that "the leadership is currently trying very hard to make the cuts and necessary sacrifices as equally shared as possible."
If the Republicans in the house and senate are handling the cuts so well, why does a large group of Christians oppose them in the name of morality? Creech gave a scriptural and thought-provoking explanation.
He traced it to "a Christian heresy." The pastors involved in Moral Mondays "take certain passages of scripture about dealing with the poor and the needy that are meant to address individual responsibility, and apply them to the government," the North Carolina Christian leader offered. In Creech's view, charity is not only moral, it is obligatory. But government-sponsored charity is wrong.
Citing Romans 13:1-6 as "the quintessential discussion in scripture of the role of government," Creech argued that "the responsibility of government is to suppress and to judge evil."
"Government's primary – if not exclusive – responsibility is to protect the God-given rights of the people," he explained, listing "our life, liberty, and property."
The sole purpose of "Moral Mondays," however, rests in supporting a system of wealth redistribution. The movement "authorizes the government to confiscate the private property of the people and give it to somebody the government believes deserving of charity."
Referring to his 14 years at the general assembly, Creech charged, "I have never seen these leaders at the State House to speak against policies that contribute to the breakdown of marriage and the family." The Rev. William Barber II, the state NAACP president who led Monday's rally "stood against the marriage amendment that we worked so hard in North Carolina to get approved," Creech charged.
"You don't see them addressing such matters as alcohol or drug use and abuse," he added, remarking that weak families and lax morals are "the very things that contribute to longer lines for public assistance – the things that exacerbate poverty."
"I don't think those who participate in Moral Monday represent a majority of North Carolinians," Creech added. He mentioned the political history of North Carolina – 140 years of Democrat rule, with Republicans taking the house and senate in 2010, expanding their lead to supermajorities in both and taking the governor's mansion in 2012.
"They've elected Republicans who they thought could straighten out our financial house," he said.
Creech hastened to clarify about his support for Republicans in North Carolina's general assembly. "I recognize that so much of what I've said today sounds partisan," he admitted. "I think that our obligation as the church in this age in America is to be prophetic and to be scriptural."
"It just so happens that our Republican friends are much closer to scripture in North Carolina than our Democrat friends," he explained. "When they stick to scripture, I'll support them. When they depart from that, they can expect a critical word from me."
The Rev. George Reed, executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches, disagreed with Creech's comments. "Those of us participating in Moral Mondays are doing exactly what we believe we are called to do as Christians – showing compassion for our brothers and sisters," he explained. "Many of those facing the most devastating harm in North Carolina…are exactly the people Jesus and the prophets would have us help."
While Reed articulated the central Christian call to charity, he did not answer Creech's argument that this giving should be personal, not political. He mentioned helping "adults who can't get health care, laid-off workers losing unemployment benefits…, pregnant women needing pre-natal care, immigrants (the biblical 'strangers'), children."
"I cannot imagine a more moral stance for us to take."