As people of faith we are called to join the public conversation about the common good – about the kind of a state and nation we can be justifiably proud of, the legacy we want to leave our children and future generations. Past generations of citizens, through government, made the decisions and investments that benefit us today. Now it is our turn.
On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, over 100 religious leaders and laypersons from across Wisconsin gathered at First United Methodist Church in Madison to add their voices to debate surrounding the state legislature’s 2017-18 budget process.
Participants at the fifth biennial “People of Faith United for Justice” advocacy day heard a powerful address by the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee. Bishop Miller posed the question to them that Mordecai asked in Esther 4:14, “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.”
State legislators from both sides of the aisle, Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) and Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) gave welcoming comments, encouraging people of faith to bring their values and concerns into the public policy discussion.
Preparation for legislative visits was provided by workshops led by experts on the three social justice issues of importance to all the people of Wisconsin – protecting our social safety net; confronting the hidden problem of sex trafficking; and preserving clean drinking water.
Following a rousing call to action by Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, attendees walked the short distance to the State Capitol and visited the offices of their elected representatives to present their concerns and perspectives. For many, it was their first time making such a visit, and they found it to be an interesting and rewarding experience.
Already we have seen the effects of advocacy – as the Joint Finance Committee has removed two items from the budget that we addressed: the Governor’s proposal to move oversight of large agricultural operations from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and his proposal to request a federal waiver to impose work requirements on recipients of housing vouchers.
Held in odd-numbered years, People of Faith United for Justice offers people of different denominations and faith traditions the opportunity to engage policymakers in conversations about the common good – about the kind of a state we can be justifiably proud of and the legacy we want to leave our children and future generations.
Watch for the next advocacy day at the Capitol – and for periodic action alerts from the Wisconsin Council of Churches!
Download the position papers of 2017 Advocacy Day:
- Protecting Our Social Safety Net: Wisconsin families rely on food stamps, housing vouchers, BadgerCare, and other programs to help them meet their basic needs. Raise your voice to protect access to these vital services.
- Confronting the Hidden Problem of Sex Trafficking in our Rural and Urban Communities: Support bi-partisan efforts and challenge our legislators to do more.
- Preserving Clean Drinking Water: Lead and manure in water supplies threaten human health throughout our state. Tell your legislators we must ensure safe drinking water for everyone.
2017 Co-sponsors: Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Madison, Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin, Madison-area Urban Ministry, Wisconsin Council of Churches, Wisconsin Faith Voices For Justice, and Wisconsin Jewish Conference