By Emma Akpan
I’ll be in my robe on Monday
Week after week, my fellow pastors and I stand before our congregations to deliver messages that will hopefully help them to deal with the struggles of the modern world. We preach hope to the unemployed and encouragement to those who have lost, or are at risk, of losing their homes to foreclosure. We remind them that their children will most assuredly have a bright future if they teach them to live right and pursue an education.
Our messages are not falling on deaf ears. The same congregants come to the altar in prayer to confirm these promises. Women suffering from domestic violence pray for peace in their homes. Children pray that their favorite teacher never leaves their classroom. And preachers stand smiling in front of them, affirming their faith, encouraging them to use that faith in the midst of despair.
The faithful leave the church Sunday morning filled with hope and ready to face weekly stressors.
But the bills being pushed through the North Carolina General Assembly is dismantling all the encouragement and hope preachers promise.
While preachers preach, our legislators debate whether or not they will include the 500,000 residents who don’t have health insurance in Medicaid coverage. They want to cut prenatal care from Medicaid which may result in unhealthy babies.
Teaching assistants across the state will lose their jobs because the Governor and the Legislature decided that funding their livelihood and providing necessary resources to educate our children, our future, is not in the budget.
On top of all that, the Legislature wants to pass an unnecessary Voter ID law, essentially enacting a barrier to the constitutional right to vote.
So my fellow pastors and I won’t just stand it pulpits on Sunday. We’ll march the streets on Monday. I’ll be wearing my robe and stole this Monday and stand amongst the clerical collars, yarmulkes, and prayer shawls to show North Carolina’s General Assembly that we will not be silent when the NC Legislature passes policies that harm women, the poor, children, and LGBT communities.
My prayers will be made visible at the Legislative Building while I demand justice for myself and my congregation.