We Move Forward Together
Day 7: Moral Movement for RedemptionResist Oppression
Oppression is an unjust exercise of power or authority. It exists in many forms. Sometimes we oppress others without realizing. Other times oppression is intentional. In a free society oppression happens when and because we allow it to. We allow oppression through our silence, inaction or ignorance.
It doesn't take much for oppression to take hold – even a small organized group can exercise influence on social policy and attitudes that belies its size. In 1980 organized political activity by 2 – 4 million voters known as the Moral Majority, arguably led to Ronald Reagan's election as President(1). Then – by encouraging evangelical ministers to promote the Moral Majority's oppressive platform to their congregation(2) – influenced Federal policy on school prayer, abortion and education, targeted liberal Congressmen up for re-election, and favored Congressmen and candidates who supported them.
The platform of the Moral Majority included censorship of media outlets that promoted an "anti-family" agenda; enforcement of a traditional vision of family life; opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment; opposition to state recognition and acceptance of homosexual acts, outlawing abortion except in cases involving incest, rape or in pregnancies where the life of the mother is at stake; and targeting Jews and other non-Christians for conversion to conservative Christianity.
I write about the Moral Majority today because although it ceased to exist as an organization in 1989(3), and although its platform did not prevail, the Moral Majority was successful at mobilizing conservative evangelicals in the "culture wars" which continue today(4), establishing or bolstering oppressive policies, thinking and beliefs that remain perniciously difficult to undo.
We can stand against oppression in our daily life by learning about and practicing anti-racism, anti-oppression and multicultural awareness (AR/AO/MC), and this can be a way of combating the rise groups like the Moral Majority in the future. But if we really want to resist oppression we must join with other communities in witness against oppression and seek to undo it. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960's demonstrates that linked together we can move forward together, and we can all thrive.
The Forward Together movement and the Moral Mondays protest are responses to the oppression in North Carolina that also speak to the larger problem of oppression in our society. These Monday protests aim to reclaim institutions, programs and beliefs that have been tainted by the philosophy of oppression, and to transform them from actors of oppression to actors of Moral Conscience. Moral Mondays marchers protest the cut of unemployment compensation for 170,000 people; increased taxes on the poor and middle class while cutting them for the wealthy individuals and large corporations; turned down federal Medicaid funds for half a million residents, enacted harsh anti-abortion legislation; severely cut education funds; and adoption of the nation’s strictest voter suppression law. Forward Together is a multiracial organization that works with community leaders and organizations to transform culture and policy to catalyze social change, and ensure that women, youth and families have the power and resources they need to reach their full potential.The February 8, 2014 Mass Moral March on Raleigh, NC, organized by Forward Together, is an opportunity to join with other communities resisting oppression, and you can participate even if you can't attend (see below). It doesn't take much for oppression to take hold. Likewise it doesn't take much to resist oppression – and with some persistence, some love and the desire to join hands with others we will overcome.