Lao Tzu said that silence is a source of great strength. This principle was evident on September 12, when about 400 people of faith marched in silence from the First Congregational Church in downtown Columbus to the Ohio Statehouse.

It was a revival, on a much larger scale, of the Moral Monday rallies held at the Statehouse before the November election two years ago. Started by Rev. William Barber in North Carolina, the Moral Monday movement reclaims the moral narrative from the religious right, which in recent years has defined morality almost exclusively in terms of restricting reproductive rights and condemning LGBTQ people.

Rev. Susan Smith modeled the silent march on an event from the height of the civil rights movement. “An attorney’s house was bombed,” she said. “They marched from the University of Tennessee to city hall. All you could hear was the shuffling of people’s feet on the pavement. When you’re marching and you’re silent, people don’t know what to do, except listen. The power comes in the very silence.”

At the Statehouse, workers and faith leaders called on Ohio lawmakers to support voting rights, education, racial justice, women’s rights, equal protection, and environmental justice. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) were out in force, calling for a $15 minimum wage.