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Rev. Dr. William Barber discusses moral revival, eradicating poverty at BYU

By Ashtyn Asay - | Nov 30, 2021

Courtesy BYU Photo

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II speaks at the Marriott Center at BYU on Tuesday.

Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a celebrated pastor, activist and author, spoke Tuesday in a forum held at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University. 

Barber spoke on the importance of having a low-wage workers assembly, and the importance of coming together as a community to enact real social change.

“I come here today to share with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I come as a fellow faith traveler who takes seriously the word of god and the deep moral values represented by various faith traditions,” Barber said. “I’m also no great scholar of the Book of Mormon, but I study comparative religions and I take your faith very seriously.”

Barber emphasized the belief that he shares with many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — the importance of helping those in need. He lamented the lack of grace shown by government officials during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We can see our present crisis in the conversations and debates that we’re having even in the middle of COVID. I’m so surprised by how much grace we’re not seeing in the midst of COVID. Particularly from many of our political leaders,” Barber said. “After 20-plus million lost jobs, millions infected, and over 750,000 deaths, and eight million more people falling into poverty … even in this moment while people are suffering … some in high places want to debate about top lines and legislative packages, or whether we should make the poor and low-wage people work before we help them.” 

Barber called BYU students to act and encouraged them to use their voices and influence to stand up for their fellow man, and for what is morally right.

“My young brothers and sisters, we have work to do. And you are not the leaders of tomorrow, you must be the moral voice of today,” he said. “Because our debates in this country too often aren’t starting with the real needs of people and values, they begin with, first, the lie about scarcity.”

Barber is a man that wears many hats in both religious and social organizations. He serves as a pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and is a well-regarded social activist. He is president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, a bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, and is a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary.

Barber helped to revive the Poor People’s Campaign in 2018, which was originally started by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.in 1968. Now called the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, the organization aims to challenge systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and religious nationalism, among other things. Barber now serves as a co-chair of the organization.

Barber has also authored four books, served as president of the North Carolina NAACP from 2006-2017, and served on the National NAACP board of directors from 2008-2020, in addition to being regularly featured in national media outlets.  A recording of Barber’s full speech can be viewed on BYUTv.

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