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'Moral Week of Action' ends with prayer rally at Ohio Statehouse

A "Moral Week of Action" in 12 states — modeled on the Moral Monday movement — ended yesterday with demonstrations aimed at moving legislators to act on social justice issues. In North Carolina the focus was on voting rights. At the Ohio Statehouse about 50 people joined a prayer rally to address a variety of issues, including economic justice, racial equality, and women's rights.

Reverend Nelson Pierce, a pastor and community organizer with the Amos Project in Cincinnati.
Steve Palm-Houser

"Today is the 51st anniversary of the March on Washington, but too many people have fallen asleep," said Sybil Edwards-McNabb, president of the Ohio Conference of the NAACP. "Morally speaking, some of our legislators are almost in a coma. We need to wake up, be alert, and be a moral movement that moves the conscience of this country."

"We know that those who work deserve a living wage," said Rev. Mark Diemer, pastor at Grace of God Lutheran Church in Columbus. "The economy in Ohio isn't supporting everyone. It is immoral when the top one percent in our state have their taxes cut, and the bottom 60 percent are paying more. We have laws that protect businesses and corporations, and fail to make laws to protect the most vulnerable among us."

"In my faith tradition we say, 'Let the children come to me,'" said Nick Bates of the Evangelical Lutheran Southern Ohio Synod. "But too often we tell children to go away, without giving them the dignity and respect they deserve. Too many kids fall behind in school because we fail to invest in early childhood education, teachers, and tutors. Children's ZIP code still determines the quality of education they receive."

"We lift up the gender wage gap," said Reverend Lynda Smith, minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens. "White women are paid 77 cents compared to each dollar paid to men." African American women are paid 69 cents on the dollar, and Latina women 58 cents, she said.

Rev. Smith also prayed about lack of access to health care and violence against women. "Help us to learn to respect everyone, so that our children will be inclined to respect everyone!" she said, raising her voice to be heard over anti-abortion hecklers in the crowd.

"This moral movement couldn't have come at a better time," said Reverend Nelson Pierce, a pastor and community organizer with the Amos Project in Cincinnati. "Over and over again we are being told that we need to live in fear. We've seen 'stand your ground' laws passed around the country and introduced here in Ohio because of fear. Walmart has capitalized on this fear, becoming one of the nation's leading sellers of firearms. It is fear that continues to drive wedges between us based on race and ethnicity."