TheGrio Daily

God & Politics With Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Pt. 2

Episode 57

“Reality is policy driven and the only way to change policy is to change the policy maker.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II shares what the Bible says about helping the poor, explaining that voting for the right people directly impacts the country’s most vulnerable.

[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to another episode of theGrio Daily, the only podcast that will tell you that white people really don’t vote against their economic interests. They vote for the lies that they’ve been led to believe about their economic interests. I’m Michael Harriot, world famous wypipologist and this is theGrio Daily. You said this earlier. Right. Like, you know, that lie where people, we believe that people, you know, poor white people are voting against their own interests. And we say the same thing about like the Christians right. But the reality is, they have been fooled to believe that their interests are different. Like like they they feel like if I don’t vote for, you know, universal health care, then something might happen to my health care. If I don’t vote for a living, if I if I object to a living wage, it’s because it hurts business which will hurt the economy. So they’ve been fooled that their interests don’t align with the interests that help poor people. How do we. But but I want and this is what I want you to come in and answer us how do we make that moral argument and combine it with the economic and the political arguments to show them the truth? 

Rev. William J. Barber II [00:01:37] Well, see, and partly I don’t have separate a moral argument is an economic argument where your heart is that’s what your treasury is, where your treasure, your heart. We create so many false dichotomy. You know, big economics used to be studied only under the heading of moral philosophy. It was not a stand alone study, even in academia. Oh, the point I’m trying to make is you do what I’m told you do public sermons, you get it, you organize, vote, you get data. I’m doing a national sermon, but every pulpit in America ought to be doing it. And I hope they will. Every every pastor, every rabbi, we ought to be talking about this. We don’t have to endorse from our pulpit and violate the law, but we can certainly preach the truth. And the truth is there are more than 2000 scriptures in the Bible then instruct us as nations on how we should treat the poor, the least of these, the hurting, the sick, the women and the children. And we make the case by making it and not just leaving it in the Bible to the ancient, but bringing it to today. So who are the poor today? If Jesus said, preach good news to the poor who are poor today? The poor are those folks that don’t make the living wage, don’t have the health care. What’s the cost of, as Joseph Stiglitz said, the Nobel Peace Prize, in the economy, he said the wrong question is being ask not what will it cost us to fix about how much is it costing us not to fix it? A trillion dollars a year we lose because of child poverty, and we could end child poverty tomorrow by redirecting 2% of the federal budget to well programs that work and taking something like child income tax credit that could end 60% of poverty among children. 

Rev. William J. Barber II [00:03:10] We could end low wages and not only would we end low wages, does the Nobel Peace Prize economists have proven it would not hurt the businesses, it would not hurt prices. In fact, it would pump over $330 billion into the economy. We have to tell the truth, that inflation is kept alive whenever you cut taxes for the wealthy, allow them to have more money to push into the economy, and then you keep wages low. Those two things actually fuel inflation and fuel economic problem. So we have to hold, as you say, the Bible in one hand, the newspaper in the other hand, data in the other hand. Data preach it, data go into the street. You know, in the Poor People’s Campaign, we are contacting and moving 5 million voter, poor low wealth voters in 15 states across this nation. We’ve been touching them and texting them and calling them and moving them and letting them know what their power is. There’s a place in which I think there’s a scripture says Cry loud and spare not, we cannot be silent. In fact, when we had about 150,000 people on June 18th, all the mass poor people, low wage workers, simply a moral march on Washington and to the polls and millions on land, poor and low wealth people of every race, creed, color, sexuality said. We’re not going to be silent anymore. And one of the ways you don’t be silent in this society is you must engage at the ballot, you must make a sound at the ballot. 

Rev. William J. Barber II [00:04:41] And lastly, that, you know, when people say, well, Christians, that we have to be careful. I’m an evangelical, but I’m not a white evangelical or an evangelical that believes that God is on is against abortion, for tax cuts, for cutting living wages, and for the Republican Party and for extremism. I’m not that. I’m an evangelical that believes what Jesus said when he preached evangelism, good news to the poor, healing to the broken heart, recover sight to the blind. So a lot of this language has been stolen. You know, people get this, I’m for family and freedom. Well, what do you mean? How are you against living wages if you for a family and freedom? How are you for a woman being raped and somebody committing incest against and she still have to have a baby? And then when she had the baby, you’re not going to make sure the baby has any health care and public education. You have to frontally take this stuff on. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing a national sermon as a model that it ought to be happening all across the country. 

Rev. William J. Barber II [00:05:43] And pastors that hear this on theGrio, there’s no violation of the law if you preach the truth. And you can’t get your pulpit and endorse on behalf of your church, I can’t. That’s wrong. But if you can’t preach the truth. If you can’t say that, that we don’t have a lack of resources in this country or lack of policy possibilities to change things, we are we have a lack of consciousness. If you can’t preach the truth and tell people that voting is first and foremost, a God give is not something America gave you from the founding and creation. God gave us the right to choose. If you can’t preach the truth that it doesn’t, we don’t have to have a country where 400 families make an average of $97,000 an hour while people get arrested simply for fighting for $15 an hour. It’s time to cry out, speak the truth and as Dr. King said years ago, silence in this moment would be betrayal. So speak the truth, organize in the streets and on the back road and don’t go to poor communities, please and say vote. Invite them into a movement. 

Rev. William J. Barber II [00:06:53] And then lastly, politicians that read or hear this from theGrio, if you can’t say the name of the poor, if you can’t call out this condition, if you are too scared to say if you get elected, you’re going to pay a living wage in health care, then that means that you’re willing to ignore 43% of this nation because 43% of adults are poor low wealth, 52% of the children. That is constitutionally indefensible. It is it is politically inept. It is morally indefensible as well. But more important, it is economically insane. We cannot keep writing off almost 50% of the population from our political discourse and our political policies. But the flipside is true, if we lift from the bottom, everybody rises. And we have told folk that the agenda of the Poor People’s Campaign repair. Not from a Democrat perspective or Republican, economists have looked at this agenda and they have said Economic Policy Institute, that the agenda we have pushed forward as it relates to addressing systemic racism, addressing systemic poverty, ecological devastation, denial of health care, the war economy, is in fact the right agenda for the lifting of the whole society to where we ought to be. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:19] Well, you know, one of the things we talk about on this podcast a lot is like literally the last episode we recorded was asking Christians to vote like a Christian conservative vote. Like conservatives. Like they want the government out of their business. Right. And I want to thank you for coming. We’ll all be watching on Sunday. And I want to thank you for all the work you’ve done for all of our people over all of these years. 

Rev. William J. Barber II [00:08:45] Thank you so much. God bless you. Forward together, not one step back. Forward together. Not one step back. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:53] All right. You have a great day. I want to thank Reverend Barber for taking his time to come on theGrio Daily. You know, he’s actually a Grio. You know, when you think about what a Grio is, it is a person who uses our oral ability and our oral gifts to inform the people of the truth. And he is a perfect example of one of the many ways that a person can be a Grio. I want to thank you for coming on. I want to thank him for educating us. And I want to remind you. To download the theGrio app. I really like to call it the streaming service, right. Because like just download one time, check it out and you’ll be amazed at how incredible it is. I want you to subscribe. I want you to tell a friend about this podcast and about that app for real, check it out. Like, I am always amazed every time. Like if you like all Black movies, if you like Black cinema, if you’d like, if you live in a majority Black city in almost any Black majority city in America, you can watch your actual local news on the real streaming service. You can, you know, check out some funny movies and just download it. And again, we always leave you with a Black saying, but you know what? We’re not going to do it today. We’re going to let Reverend Barber give you a Black saying. So here he goes. 

Rev. William J. Barber II [00:10:25] In this moment, I’m going to go back to what I said, Martin Luther King said at the on the steps of the Alabama State House under the threat of being killed right after they had march from Selma to Montgomery. And he said that the threat of the masses of poor Negro and the masses of poor white people coming together and voting in away that would create a voting bloc that could redesign the economic architecture of this country. Is the great fear of the Southern and the greedy aristocracy. I add to his statement. Let’s realize before you. 

Michael Harriot [00:11:16] If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app. Subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcasts at theGrio dot com. 

[00:11:32] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.