For the past two months, hundreds of protesters have entered North Carolina’s capitol in Raleigh, refused to disperse, and left in handcuffs. Many of them profess Christ and oppose policies by the legislature—which this year has a Republican majority for the first time in a century—they consider harmful to the poor. But other Christians are promoting alternative ways to help.
The weekly “Moral Mondays” protests, led by the NAACP, have grown steadily since they began in mid-April. Police arrested more than 150 on June 3 and 84 on June 10. The nonviolent demonstrators argue that cutting benefit programs and tax breaks for low- and middle-income families violates Jesus’ teaching to care for the poor. They do not accept the view of other Christians that the best way to help the poor is through private charity, job creation, and self-reliance, not government programs.
Those arrested include Durham and Rocky Mount city council members and a Charlotte journalist. Republicans maintain they’re doing exactly what the public wanted in electing them to veto-proof majorities. The NAACP plans to continue its weekly protests indefinitely: NAACP President William Barber wants more government action, arguing “If you see a kid floating down the river, you can run in and rescue that one child. But if you see a bunch more, you have to go up that river to see who’s throwing them in.”
Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, a professing Christian, acknowledges the theological battle. She said she and her family are charitable, and the best economic policies rein in spending and create a better business climate. If the government transfers money to the poor, “we’re taking it from somewhere else, but we can’t do it at the cost of the ability of the person paying for the taxes to still have enough to provide for their own families and to create that environment for jobs,” she said.