North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber, accompanied by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas, left, as activists, many of them clergy, are taken into custody by U.S. Capitol Police on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 13, 2017. The activists were protesting against the Republican health care bill outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Clergy arrested outside McConnell's office while protesting health care bill

WASHINGTON (RNS) Eleven interfaith protesters, including the Rev. William Barber II, were arrested outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office while protesting Medicaid cuts in the GOP's revised health care bill.

About 50 protesters gathered Thursday (July 13) for the Capitol Hill rally, before marching to a Senate office building steps from the Capitol.

Clergy lead a group protesting against the Republican health care bill outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 13, 2017. RNS photo by Madeleine Buckley

Some protesters wore red armbands to symbolize a "willingness to engage in civil disobedience," said Barber, a North Carolina pastor at the forefront of state and national protests focused on poverty and civil rights.

The group was warned three times to stop protesting. Capitol Police then closed off the hallway and arrested any remaining protesters about 20 minutes later.

Barber has repeatedly been arrested for civil disobedience in North Carolina and elsewhere.

[ad number=“1”]

Protesters said they want McConnell to know it's immoral to cut Medicaid because it helps many children, seniors and disabled people.

They timed their march with the unveiling of the GOP health care bill, which would repeal and replace President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Critics of the GOP effort, which has run into roadblocks this spring and summer, say it would undermine the poorest and most vulnerable Americans.

At the rally, Barber called others of faith to action.

[ad number=“2”]

"We're saying today it's time for other clergy to come," he said. "It's time for moral agents to step up. It's time for us to go down to the house of power and challenge the way power is being used."

Upon reaching McConnell's office, Barber; the Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO of the nonprofit Faith in Public Life; and the Rev. Traci Blackmon, of the United Church of Christ, spoke to the crowd.

Clergy leaders who were not arrested continue a protest against the Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 13, 2017. RNS photo by Madeleine Buckley


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

After the arrests, some of the remaining protesters gathered out front for prayer.

Comments

  1. IT’S SAD THAT AMERICAN ARE EVEN CONSIDERING TRUMP AS A LEADER OF OUR COUNTRY-HE IS GIVING IT AWAY THRU BUSINESS DEAL WITH RUSSIA-WE ARE GOING TO WAKE UP ONE MORNING AND FIND RUSSIA RUNNING OUR COUNTRY-IF THIS HAPPENS IT IS AND WAS DONE DUE TO RACISM OF THIS COUNTRY-THEY WOILD RATHER LET THIS COUNTRY GO TO THE RUSSIAN THAT ADMITT OBAMA DID A HELL OF A JOB. DUE TO HIS SKIN COLOR-AND OUR HEAVENLY FATHER PUT HIM THERE. NOW YOU ARE SUFFERING AS THEY DID FOR 40 YEARS IN THE DESERT IN THE BIBLE-WAKE UP AND START LOVING YOUR FELLOW AQMERICANS.

  2. WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOD, IS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE-STEPPER
    Religion has people believing in an invisible man in the sky, and stories about people wandering around in a desert for 40 years, why shouldn’t it get people to believe Trump is a good president, based upon faith (also known as belief without evidence), while also being delusional (maintaining fixed false beliefs even when confronted with facts as a result of inculcation by religious thinking).

  3. So, if anyone is mistreating Christians it is the cops guarding McConnell’s office. What has Trump to say about this?

  4. “Some protestors . . . wore red armbands to symbolize a “willingness to engage in civil disobedience,” said Barber, a North Carolina pastor at the forefront of state and national protests focused on poverty and civil rights.”

    So, these clergy protesters are willing “to engage in state and national protests focused on poverty and civil rights.” are they?

    How willing are they to preach and teach the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ back home in the parishes that are paying their salaries? If they did–or indeed, have EXPERIENCED that transforming power themselves, they would be able to tell the poor and politically oppressed among their flocks about this awesome power of Christ’s love and Goodness, and how it’s able to set the prisoners free and do away with all those pathologies that keep people -of all colors living in poverty! I’m speaking of drug and alcohol addiction, gambling and otherwise wasting the money their children need for food, sloth, adultery etc.)

    Most of these protesting pastors are just political hacks who are bent in getting themselves into the political spotlight instead of going back home to their parishes to preach and teach the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Otherwise, they may as well stop their pretenses of being Christian and living off the sweat of honest seekers of God, and go work for some political organization that reflects their beliefs and actions!

  5. Poverty and civil rights are exactly what Jesus and Scripture are about. Jesus never taught the feel good gospel so many follow today.
    I guess you would say the same to MLK or Rev. Bonhoeffer?
    How about the abolitionist clergy of the 1850s?

  6. How are they mistreating Christians? The protesters understand the legal limits of the First Ammendment because the location of their protests constitutes what they acknowledge as civil disobedience. If the don’t move they get arrested and removed. I’m sure there are occasional abuses but none mentioned in the article.

  7. Jesus was a rebel and practiced civil/religious disobedience. He defied some of the Jewish laws, consorted with known sinners, gave monies to the poor. It was Jesus’s remarks about turning the other cheek and his Sermon on the Mount that inspired Ghandi, who inspired MLK, who inspired the minister’s in this article. Granted that Jesus’s defiance was mainly with the religious authorities.

  8. Well, Ely-Dude, the mission of Jesus the Christ to preach and teach about salvation through faith, in His life and sacrifice. Healing the sick and helping the poor were just His vehicles He used to get people’s attention!

    Why bring Pastors Martin Luther King and Dietrich Bonhoffer into this discussion at all? Although great causes, both of them were political causes that believers then were right to uphold and support. They had nothing to do with he transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I don’t recall Bonhoffer setting about to convert Hitler, or King preaching the salvation message to any of his followers, black or white!

  9. “Salvation through faith” and related theologies are all post-Jesus developments. Healing the sick and helping the poor and Jesus examples of how we are to live. Jesus was political – and we are divinely called to be the same.

  10. My point is that Trump, televangelists, and conservative commentators like Bill O’Reilly like to whine about nonexistent discrimination against conservative Christian, yet, ironically, it is a liberal Christian minister who gets busted for a protest at the office of the sleazy McConnell.

  11. I agree with the protesters but I thought it’s standard practice to remove protesters from government offices and private property regardless of their political affiliation and not necessarily discrimination.

  12. You make some very general and harsh judgements regarding the motives of these ministers! They are preaching the Gospel by their actions! It’s called Christian witness! This witness for Justice for the poor and marginalized goes back to the prophets of the Old Testament and the Early Church!

  13. You define what is Salvific much too narrowly!

  14. First, I suggest that you look at the video in this article with the words of Rev. Butler. Our political system is in knots. Would you have told Amos to stay home? Second, Rev Barber has been leading the Moral Mondays in NC and taking care of his flock. He and others come right from the mold of Martin Luther King Jr. Suggest you read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to better understand. And remember, Jesus taught in the streets, on the mountainsides and by the sea. The Pharisees and the tax collectors weren’t happy about his message either….Finally, I am sorry that you are one of the people who thinks you can work your way out of poverty without some help. Have you met any working poor? Two jobs and they folks still struggle to make ends meet. Have you ever met someone who is scared not to have health insurance? Know someone how has lost their health?

  15. Seems like they are doing what Jesus did.

  16. Well Scott, Jesus indeed “went about doing good, where ‘er He could!”

    He just didn’t think He should try to do His Good through the crooked politicians of his day! The politicians of OUR day are about TWICE as crooked and corrupt!

  17. I would suggest you watch Rev.Barber live on Sunday mornings at his home church before you make statements like this. It is obvious you have not done that.

  18. Really? The “local politicians” of his day were the Scribes and Pharisees. They did the daily business of running the country, according to their laws, for the Romans. Only when something conflicted with Roman Law or came to the Romans’ attention first did they interfere. Jesus had PLENTY to say to the Scribes and Pharisees. He went as far as calling them whited sepulchers, which meant previously used stone grave chambers! I think he was saying they stank of death but had been whitewashed to look clean, right? I don’t think it was much of a compliment! He said a lot of other nasty stuff about them, too. Get to know your Bible and Biblical times history better!

  19. Put McConnell in jail and let Rev. Barber take his seat.

  20. Jesus called out Ceaser to take care of the poor/ eliminate poverty? I thought he said that the poor will always be among us — that he called out *individuals* to care for the poor — and set the example by doing it himself, instead of delegating out to some government agent.

    Please direct me to any scriptures I may have missed, in order to complete the picture.

Leave a Comment