Thursday, March 9, 2017

Heads of Washington Faith Offices Meet with Congressional Black Caucus Members On Matters of Justice

Monday, March 13, 2017

Washington D.C.- On Thursday morning, leaders in the faith community gathered with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and their staffers to discuss matters of common concern.  The meeting was called by Office of Public Witness Director Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, who when asked about the urgency of such an event said, “the premature and unwise actions of the Trump administration in the first months of his administration have become a rallying cry of protest for many of us. We hope to discuss opportunities to partner together in resisting many of the political actions which will bring harm to the poor and disadvantaged.” The meeting took place at 10 AM in the office of CBC Chair, North Carolina 1st District Representative G. K. Butterfield. Also in attendance were Heads of Office from a broad range of religious traditions including the ELCA, The Religious Action Center for Reformed Judaism, and the National Council of Churches.

Legislative Assistant to Rep. Butterfield, Edward Hill fielded questions and concerns from faith leaders on topics ranging from public benefits to immigration. He encouraged faith leaders to reach out to their representatives and provide them with moral arguments for preventing increased military spending and preserving safety net and education programs. Chief of Staff to Rep. Butterfield, Troy G. Clair stressed the importance of continuing to mobilize the faith community to show up, disrupt, and be a moral voice for justice at town halls, particularly those hosted by Members of Congress who are making decisions that will cause many Americans to fall below the poverty line and lose healthcare.

Texas 18th District Representative Sheila Jackson Lee also made remarks at this meeting and spoke on the current political climate from her vantage point. She recounted how the social safety net is being attacked from all fronts, from efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act to the recently announced cuts to the Housing and Urban Development budget. She discussed how these actions would devastate the lives of people across this nation, many of them congregants of the faith groups represented in the room. She encouraged faith leaders to heed the command, “get up and walk,” stating that this is the time for faith groups to hold their own town halls and advocacy meetings. She said that more than ever before, it is necessary for faith groups to be a prophetic voice for justice in a time when the most vulnerable in our society are being actively marginalized.

Faith leaders expressed interest in a continued dialogue with CBC members and staff, and will continue to explore opportunities to co-create a justice agenda in 2017 and beyond.