Opinion

Daniel José Camacho: Keep a close eye on the Poor People’s Campaign

RNS asked some of the country’s top faith leaders, scholars and activists to consider what changes the religion landscape will see in 2018. Find all their predictions here.

(RNS) — The new Poor People’s Campaign will be one of the biggest religious stories of 2018. Spearheaded by Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, this campaign is consciously taking up the radical politics and unfinished work of Martin Luther King Jr.

This campaign’s fate will reveal two things: first, whether the fusion politics and tactics successfully deployed in North Carolina through Moral Mondays and the state NAACP are replicable or translatable on a national scale; second, whether a substantial Religious Left can exert political influence.

If the PPC is mildly successful in mobilizing progressive voters and building a broad coalition, it will spell major trouble for Republicans.

Set to stage over 40 days of direct action in Washington D.C. and 25 state capitals, some are calling this “perhaps the most ambitious civil rights campaign since the 60s.” Yet, the biggest test for the PPC will be its ability to impact public policy and shift the politics of the Democratic Party.

If the PPC is able to build a broad religious coalition around issues such as poverty, environmentalism, and peace, it might reignite King’s political vision which religious liberals abandoned.

Up until now, it’s been the Religious Right which has organized itself around a set of policies and pushed the Republican Party. If religious progressives can accomplish something comparable, there might finally be something worth calling the Religious Left.

(Daniel José Camacho is a contributing opinion writer at The Guardian US. He writes about politics and religion. The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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