Can either side claim the high moral ground in the Wake County school diversity fight?
As noted in today's article, the various Christian leaders allying with the state NAACP to restore the old diversity policy are arguing they're on the side of good. Terms like evil and Jim Crow were bandied about at Tuesday's press conference on the July 20 mass march.
“We're here today to fight against something that is extremely evil,” said the Rev. John Mendez on behalf of the General Baptist State Convention of N.C., whose 400,000 members represent the largest black denomination in the state. “We would not be here today if evil was not pervasive. But there is something evil because it is divisive.”
The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, invoked the Biblical book of Galatians about Christians being one in Christ to argue that Wake County is one community.
"If we allow resegregation it undermines all of the other things we need to do to secure our children’s future," Barber said at the press conference. "That’s dangerous! That's wrong! That’s Immoral! And, we believe, it's unconstitutional!"
Click here for the rest of Barber's remarks.
The Rev. Nancy Petty, senior pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, said supporters of the diversity policy are dealing with issues of justice and truth. She said democracy is based on the concepts of equality and freedom.
"It's time for us as people of faith to take a stand and say that all people are equal," Petty said. "All people are created in the image of God and we all have a voice and a place at the table."
The Rev. Michael Hunn, speaking for the 50,000 member Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, compared the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan who helped a person in need with the diversity policy encouraging people to see the whole county as their neighborhood.
“We do our children a great disservice if we teach them that in America your neighbor is the person who has what you have, who looks like you look, lives where you live and drives what you drive,” said Hunn, a parent of a student at a magnet school. “We do our children a great disservice if we isolate them from the beautiful and God given diversity which Wake County provides.”
Click here to view the rest of Hunn's statement.
But Steve Noble, chairman of Called2Action, the conservative Christian group that backed the four new members in the election, said it's the role of parents and not the school system to teach children who are their neighbors.
Noble said the critics of the board majority are engaging in politics and grandstanding. He said they're relying on government to solve their problems.
Noble questioned how the other side can call members of the board majority racists and say they're engaging in actions that are evil. He said that's un-Christian behavior by people who say they're followers of Jesus.
"The people that Jesus got mad it were the religious big mouths of the day," Noble said. "He was compassionate with other people."
Speaking of charges of racism, the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, second vice president of the state NAACP, gave the closing remarks and benediction at the press conference. Gatewood was nearly arrested for not giving up the podium during the March 2 meeting in which he said Margiotta was a "white racist" who was going to hell.
During the press conference, Gatewood held up a sign showing a picture of white and black water fountains from Jim Crow days.
"We're saying no to Jim Crow," Gatewood said Tuesday. "We can't go back. We've been there and done that."