Leader of Poor People’s Campaign to speak Monday in Topeka

The Rev. William Barber

A North Carolina minister who gained national headlines last month when he took issue with policies of President Donald Trump that he said hurt “the lease of these” will speak Monday to an interfaith gathering in Topeka.

 

The Rev. William Barber will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, at First United Methodist Church, 600 S.W. Topeka Blvd., in an event sponsored by Kansas Interfaith Action. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and there is no charge for admission.

Barber, who is president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in North Carolina, is coming to Topeka as part of a nationwide call-to-action campaign about working for equality and justice and helping the poor.

Barber is helping lead the New Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival, which is described as a “grassroots effort that draws upon the history, vision and unfinished work” of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Barber’s well-publicized comments in July stemmed from a photo showing evangelical Christian leaders laying hands on Trump and praying for the president in the Oval Office.

“When you can p-r-a-y for a president and others while they p-r-e-y, preying on the most vulnerable,” he told MSNBC, “you’re violating the sacred principles of religion.”

Barber, 53, who also is pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., said at the time he was particularly concerned over Republican efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. He contended that “thousands will die” if the health care act was overturned.

Barber told The Topeka Capital-Journal that in the comments that gained national attention, he quoted several scripture passages “and made the point that praying for any president without critiquing their policies that hurt the least of these and ‘preys’ on the least of these borders on heresy.”

He said that in his comments that received national attention, he didn’t say that praying for President Trump was heresy.

Barber’s comments in July regarding those who prayed for Trump were met with swift opposition from the North Carolina Republican Party, which responded with a news release condemning what it called the “hateful actions” of Barber.

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said in the news release that Bender “crossed the line” as he used “his role as a supposed faith-based leader to falsely drive citizens away from praying for the good of our nation and our nation’s president.”

Earlier this week, while on his national call-to-action tour in New Mexico, Barber responded to comments made by Trump on Tuesday regarding last weekend’s deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., when the president said there was “blame on both sides” of the violence.

The Albuquerque Journal quoted Barber as saying the president “was justifying white supremacy.”

Barber also said the nation had come to a crossroads, according to an article in the Raleigh News & Observer.

“We must make a moral choice,” Barber told the Journal. “We can take the righteous road of repair … or we can, as we did half a century ago, follow those who would lead our nation down the road of denial and retreat.”

Kansas Interfaith Action officials describe their group as “a statewide, multi-faith issue-advocacy organization that ‘puts faith into action’ by educating, engaging and advocating on behalf of people of faith and the public regarding critical social, economic, and climate justice issues.”

Contact Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or follow live reports @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/philreports.tcj/

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