At Border Wall Protest, Rev. William Barber Criticizes Joel Osteen and Tony Perkins

Rev. William J. Barber, co-chair of the People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, speaks to a girl in Mexico through the border wall. Barber tells her, through an interpreter, “One day there will be no more walls.” (Alexandra Hinojosa/The Washington Post)
Rev. William J. Barber, co-chair of the People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, speaks to a girl in Mexico through the border wall. Barber tells her, through an interpreter, “One day there will be no more walls.” (Alexandra Hinojosa/The Washington Post)

Bishop William J. Barber called out evangelical leaders Joel Osteen and Tony Perkins during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border this week where a stretch of replacement fencing is nearing completion.

“They say they follow Jesus, who tore down the wall, and yet they are not speaking out,” Barber said during the Monday demonstration, referring to the biblical wall of Jericho. “They continue to endorse a president and endorse his wrong and consecrate his sin, and endorse and consecrate his racism.”

About 60 people gathered with Barber at the wall, several representing the Black Lives Matter movement, Border Network for Human Rights, United Tribal Nations, and About Face: Veterans Against the War. Barber, a Protestant minister from North Carolina, led chants of “tear down this wall,” while others held letters that spelled, “No Hate, No Walls.”

While evangelicals and the “religious right” have become the dominant image of American Christianity in the political sphere, Barber has been pushing an alternative. Since 2013, he’s been holding “Moral Mondays,” social justice protests led by a coalition of progressive religious leaders.

When a photo of evangelical leaders praying for President Trump in the Oval Office circulated on the Internet this summer, Barber called the display “theological malpractice bordering on heresy.”

White evangelicals have long favored the Republican candidate in presidential elections, delivering about 81 percent of their vote to Trump in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. Among all Protestants, about 58 percent voted for Trump.

During the border protest this week, Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, reached across through spaces in the metal fence and blessed several children that came to ask for a dollar from protesters and organizers.

“I just looked through that wall and didn’t see criminals or rapists,” Barber said, referring to Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants during the 2016 campaign. “I saw children.”

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SOURCE: Alexandra Hinojosa 
The Washington Post