register at https://tinyurl.com/faith-politics
register at https://tinyurl.com/faith-politics
The California Legislative Session begins today, January 6, 2020 and will run through August 31, 2020 with recesses throughout for members to meet with constituents in their districts.
We are looking forward to following bills in the California Senate and Assembly in four areas:
We also look forward to Lutheran Lobby Day on May 20, 2020 at the Capitol building in Sacramento, where we will share our policy priorities and values as Lutherans with our representatives. All are welcome. Registration opens March 1, 2020.
This year, Director Regina Q. Banks and Hunger Fellow Nicole Newell will continue visiting and hosting advocacy trainings in congregations throughout the state. We are grateful for these partnerships and will continue to work with ELCA Advocacy, our Synod partners, CalLu, and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in building a more just California.
The Conference of Parties, known as COP, is the body responsible for implementing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The parties are the 197 nations and territories which have signed on to the Framework Convention in commitment to reducing emissions and developing. The first COP meeting was in Berlin in 1995, after the UNFCCC was formed in 1992. COP25 is the 25th yearly meeting of the Conference of Parties.
Regina Q. Banks, Director, Lutheran Office of Public Policy of California
God our creator, God our provider, God our nurturer and our sustainer and our guide, we have failed you. In love you have given us a home, and we have fouled it. Your children now gather in Madrid at the COP 25 climate change meeting to deliberate about how to mend what we have so callously broken. Strengthen them Lord. Pour out your spirit on the hearts of the participants. Instill in the delegates hearts that are humble and minds that are fixed on justice. Empower the parties and the observers to spread the word about all that is happening in the discussions and the enormity of the tasks ahead. Steel their resolve. Fortify the heads of state, and ministers, and diplomats, and scientists, and teachers, and activists, and advocates for the duties ahead. Be in their midst. Continue to have mercy on your creation, O Lord. We come to you meekly asking mercy for their work and ours. And in the accomplishment of the goal may you be glorified and praised. Amen.
ADVOCATES RESPOND DURING EXTENDED SNAP COMMENT PERIOD: When new information from the Department of Agriculture was highlighted, estimating that more than 800,000 students access to free and discounted meals if a proposed rule change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was adopted, Lutherans used an extended comment period to express their opinions.
The proposed rule change to “categorical eligibility” of extremely poor communities would terminate SNAP access for nearly 3.1 million people. Thank you for your response through the ELCA Advocacy Action Center. We will continue to monitor the situation and report updates.
PARIS AGREEMENT WITHDRAWAL REACTION: Religious and community partners are deeply concerned by the United States’ formal withdrawal from the Paris Agreement as announced Nov. 4 by the Trump administration. Global cooperation is required to address this critical moment in time. Future generations will live with profound impact of the actions we take today.
“We see the despoiling of the environment as nothing less than the degradation of God’s gracious gift of creation,” reads the ELCA social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice.” Caring, serving, keeping, loving, and living by wisdom, the statement continues, sum up what is meant in Scripture witness by acting as God’s stewards of the earth. ELCA Advocacy staff and partners will be at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in December and will continue working with faith-based actors addressing climate change together.
GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY ACT COMMITMENT: In the wake of more pandemics, such as HIV, SARS, Avian flu, Ebola and Zika, more action is needed from the global community to address the health care needs of our communities. If passed, the bipartisan Global Health Security Act of 2019 (H.R. 2166) would revitalize U.S. government commitment to advancing global health security.
H.R. 2166 would strengthen U.S. commitments under the Global Health Security Agenda, a multilateral initiative launched in 2014 to build countries’ capacity to manage infectious disease threats and elevate health security as a global priority. An Action Alert in the ELCA Advocacy Action Center is available to facilitate messages of support to legislators.
SUPPORT FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN: For the past six years, a power struggle among different political and military factions in South Sudan has subjected its people to a high level of violence. Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, and millions have been displaced. In late October the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution (S. Res. 371) to reaffirm U.S. government support for South Sudan.
The resolution calls on parties to ensure implementation of the September 2018 agreement between the factions, including formation of a new transitional government. Additionally, the resolution encourages the U.S. Secretary of State and the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to continue providing humanitarian assistance to South Sudanese and work with other agencies to hold corrupt officials and human rights abusers accountable. ELCA Advocacy thanked senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Todd Young (R-IN) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) for their leadership.
WEBINAR TO EXPAND ELCA CREATION CARE: The ELCA is responding as stewards of God’s good creation, and we need more #CreationCareAmbassadors to spread enthusiasm and information and to help strengthen our response. You can learn more on Dec. 11 from the free webinar “ELCA Caring for God’s Creation Today: Pass It On!”
The moment is now. The opportunities are many. The resources exist and are expanding. Learn about what’s happening and how you can make a difference, through this webinar hosted by ELCA Advocacy and our ecumenical collaborator, Blessed Tomorrow, on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Maybe being a #CreationCareAmbassador is for you. Let’s pass it on! Registration info from facebook.com/pg/elcaadvocacy/events/.
HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: The United Nations General Assembly held a High-Level Meeting for the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), on November 20, 2019. This convention protects the rights of children everywhere to be free from discrimination, violence, and neglect and remains the world’s most ratified treaty. Opening Remarks were given by H.E. Mr. Tijani Muhammad-Bande (President of the General Assembly), H.E. António Guterres (UN Secretary-General), Ms. Henrietta Fore (UNICEF Executive Director), and other Special Representatives/ Rapporteurs. These top UN officials noted the important gains that had been made over the past 30 years and urged refreshed commitments. The meeting featured a “kid’s takeover” segment with participation of children and goodwill ambassadors through speeches, multimedia, and artistic performances across the three themes of Climate Change, Humanitarian, and Education. A meeting concluded with Member States invited to provide their interventions on their perspectives regarding the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. You can access the full event on http://www.webtv.un.org
NEVER IS NOW SUMMIT ON ANTI-SEMITISM AND HATE: LOWC Director Dennis Frado joined Kathryn Lohre, ELCA Assistant to the Presiding Bishop and Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, in attending the annual “Never is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate” sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Featured speakers at the November 21 event included ADL International Leadership Awardee Sacha Baron Cohen and ADL Courage Against Hate Awardee Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder & CEO of Chobani. Cohen’s serious remarks challenging bigotry and intolerance highlighted the role of social media in perpetrating such attitudes and called for holding leaders of social media companies accountable.
CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON TREATMENT OF CHILDREN IN ISRAELI MILITARY DETENTION: Bishop Thomas Aitken of Northeastern Minnesota Synod represented Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton at a congressional briefing held November 20, which focused on the treatment of children in Israeli military detention. Organized by the Faith Forum on the Middle East, Churches for Middle East Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee, the briefing featured Rep. Betty McCollum (D-4th-MN) and several Christian leaders speaking on the importance of holding governments, including Israel, accountable for observing international human rights standards when utilizing U.S. military assistance as required by U.S. law. Bishop Aitken said, “It is in our DNA as a Church to not turn a blind eye to this issue”.
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN COMMEMORATION: On November 25 the United Nations held a commemorative event for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Participants wore orange in support of the UN’s “Orange the World: General Equality Stands Against Rape” Campaign to end violence against women, with a particular focus over the next two years on rape. One in three women and girls experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
Ms. Ajna Jusic (President of the Association “Forgotten Children of War,” Bosnia), a 26-year old panelist, shared her heartbreak of discovering in her teens that she is a child born of war-time rape. Women who were raped in Bosnia, and the resulting children, are still living in a society where they are ostracized. This drives her current work to pass a law acknowledging the “forgotten children of war” as people who have human rights.
Ms. Karen Naimer (Deputy Director of Programs and Director of the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones/Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)), is a grantee of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UNTF), who has changed the handling of rape cases. Using a multidisciplinary approach, PHR gathers professionals from the medical, policing and judiciary fields to work with survivors, ensuring they receive the best care and support possible. She also highlighted that “faith leaders carry enormous clout in their communities. They are change-makers and we need to bring them into the discussion as well” and “anyone who carries a certain level of importance, privilege and credibility in their communities – they are the people who need to be part of the conversation and part of the solution.”
16 DAYS CAMPAIGN: Also on November 25, the 2019 “16 Days of Activismagainst gender-based violence” campaign kicked off. The international, annual campaign coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadershipruns for 16 days and ends on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2019. “16 Days is an opportunity for us to highlight what we are doing, what the situation is. But 365 days is to do the work” said Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka United Nations Under-Secretary-General/UN Women Executive Director. This campaign aims to raise awareness, demonstrate solidarity and pressure governments to implement commitments to eliminate all gender-based violence (GBV) against women. Read the full 2019 campaign guide here. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is considering a legally binding convention on GBV. The Center for Women’s Global Leadership has created an online 16 Days Toolkit #ILOendGBV, on “ending gender-based violence in the world of work”. Through LWF’s partnership with Ecumenical Women at the UN (EW), LOWC participated through short blog posts.
PRESIDING BISHOP’S STATEMENT CONCERNING STATE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS: Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton issued a statement on November 19 in response to an announcement by Secretary of State Pompeo asserting that the “establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.” Noting that the ELCA has long called “for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, [and] the cessation of all settlement activities and withdrawal from settlements on Palestinian territory to the 1967 boundaries”, she said the announcement made realization of an end to “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more difficult and distant, rather than advancing the cause of peace.”
By Ruth Ivory-Moore, Program Director for Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility
The 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) gets underway in Madrid, Spain today, and an unprecedented number of people from the ELCA are present as part of an ELCA Advocacy delegation – including Lutheran state public policy office directors, young adult leaders, global companions and members of the Lutherans Restoring Creation network. Negotiators and civil society observers meet annually at conference of parties (COP) conferences to hammer out resolutions to remedy, mitigate and adapt to a warming climate. Despite being in a crisis situation, where severe weather patterns are intensified and disaster damage and loss of life are more frequent, we must and can turn this around.
This moment in time involves using all tools at our disposal with a recognition that our human existence is interlinked with all of creation. “Lutherans are called to listen to the cry of the Earth along with the anguished cry of every broken soul so that we assume personal, ecclesial and public leadership in addressing both human justice and Earth justice together,” reads “Why Lutherans Care for Creation.” We are equipped at COP25 to use God’s creative wisdom to take stock of where we are now and where we need to be and to devise plans to wisely steward our place caring for the earth.
Days at a COP are long. Side events, displays and key speakers draw participants to opportunities for engagement and collaboration as well as learning. Lasting and collaborative relationships will be formed and strengthened with our neighbors, whether geographically in Pennsylvania, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa or Asia-Pacific. There are no boundaries to the devasting impacts of a warming earth, be they wildfires out West or historic flooding in Venice, or be they ecological system changes such as migrating species from moose to microbes. Knowing we are living into our role as stewards of creation energizes COP encounters with unparalleled enthusiasm.
Two youths who spoke at an interfaith climate emergency consultation in New York City in September 2019 implored us to think of caring for the earth not as a movement but as part of who we are. The resource, “Why Lutherans Care for Creation,” asserts: “For Christians, care of the Earth is not an ‘environmental cause.’ Rather, it is central to our holy calling to treasure the Earth and to care for it as our common home, fully integrating creation-care into our love of God and neighbor.”
ELCA participants bring another core conviction to COP25. While the environmental impact of a warming climate is dire, hope triumphant over despair is central to our tradition. As the ELCA Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice social statement reminds us: “We testify to the hope that inspires and encourages us. We announce this hope to every people, and witness to the renewing work of the Spirit of God.”
POLICY COUNCIL MEETING AND PRIORITIES: The policy council of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy- CA met at the Luther Center in Glendale, CA on October 26, 2019 to discuss the legislative priorities of the ELCA and LOPP-CA, welcome new staff and plan FUNdraisers for the upcoming program year. It was a great meeting and much was decided. Look for updates soon. But set your calendars now for LUTHERAN LOBBY DAY 2020: Wednesday May 20, 2020. We will use this opportunity to again engage with legislators and staff on issues of concern to Lutherans across the state.
Our priorities for 2020 have shifted but continue to reflect a deep concern for the least and the last in our communities, and care for creation and justice in our golden state. We will continue to advocate for the elimination of Deep Childhood Poverty and accompany those who immigrate to and migrate within California. After listening to your concerns during our congregation visits and in consultation with our partners at Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, we are adding engagement with and for the unhoused to our portfolio of issues. And with the addition of Nicole Newell as our Hunger Advocacy Fellow, we are adding food and farming as a new policy priority for the 2020 legislative session. As the largest producer of food in the U.S., California is dominated by large farms relying on undercompensated migrant labor and extensive use of water throughout the driest of months. These farming systems are too often disconnected from the processing, distributing, eating and waste aspects of the cycle. In keeping with God’s call to care for creation and our neighbor, LOPP-CA seeks to promote equitable food and farming systems in California that support healthy communities, full bellies and the preservation of vital ecosystems. Our policy council has decided to continue to support our ministry and secular partners in the implementation of the Clean Safe Affordable Drinking Water Fund though take a less active role.
All of these issues and more will be discussed leading up to and during Lutheran Lobby Day 2020 on May 20, 2020. If these priorities are in your area of expertise or you are looking for ways to get involved with LOPP-CA, there are openings for synod representatives in Pacifica, Sierra Pacific and Southwest California synods. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your service.
SYNOD AND CONGREGATION VISITS: A sincere Thank You goes out to the pastors and members of Immanuel Lutheran Church, San Jose; Ascension Lutheran Church, Thousand Oaks; University AME Zion Church, Palo Alto; and Advent Lutheran Church, Morgan Hill for welcoming us into your worship experiences. We continue to delight in the varied ways that the Holy Spirit manifests in your families. Continue to invite us. We will continue to walk with you.
Thank you to Bishop Mark Holmerud and staff of Sierra Pacific Synod for their hospitality during the 2019 Professional Leaders Conference at Monterey Tides. LOPP-CA was offered primetime to talk about the church’s way forward through advocacy, and God is truly still working through contacts and connections made there. Similarly, a big thank you goes to Trinity Lutheran Women of the ELCA members for welcoming our Director Regina Q. Banks’ offer of the Sunday sermon on October 20th. This was her first sermon. She was humbled and blessed to take that journey with you.
THIRD COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: During October, UN Special Procedure mandate-holders and other experts delivered reports to the General Assembly’s Third Committee (on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues), as mandated by the Human Rights Council. These reports focused on the advancement of women, indigenous issues, the protection of children and the promotion and protection of human rights to name a few. The meetings were chaired by H.E. Mr. Christian Braun, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg and can be viewed online here.
Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Women, gave opening remarks on the Third Committee’s session on Advancement of Women, highlighting that “violence against women and girls and the renewed pushback against women’s rights remain pervasive around the world so as we prepare for the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2020, we need renewed commitment from all.” The Secretary-General focused two reports on Advancement of Women, titled “Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas” and “violence against women migrant workers.” A report was also submitted by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples report focused on the implementation the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination through autonomy and self-government. The report includes eight recommendations, one including the role of States in adopting and implementing “all measures necessary to ensure the adequate recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and natural resources, as that recognition represents the cornerstone of their autonomy and self-government and is essential for their survival as distinct peoples.” Documentation of all reports for the Third Committee’s agenda items can be accessed online here.
UNITED NATIONS DAY: On October 24, 2019, the United Nations celebrated United Nations Day, marking 74 years since the UN Charter came into force in 1945, launching the United Nations. The Charter consists of a preamble and 19 chapters, calling for the U.N. to “maintain international peace and security, promote social progress and better standards of life, strengthen international law and promote the expansion of human rights”. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres commented at its commemoration that “United Nations Day highlights the enduring ideals of the Charter, amid stormy global seas, the Charter remains our shared moral anchor.” Guterres has announced that 2020 will kick off with a UN75 initiative that will feature the world’s largest international dialogue on “the role of global cooperation in building the future we want ” to commemorate the 75thanniversary. A special UN Day Concert, featuring musicians from Qatar (pictured above with the Secretary-General) was also held and can be viewed online here.
MANDATE ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT: The ten-year anniversary of the Mandate on Sexual Violence in Conflict was commemorated at the United Nations ECOSOC Chamber on 30 October, 2019, hosted by the Republic of South Africa and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The event began with imagery from the exhibition “Youth Speak Out Through the Arts” (pictured left), showcasing art from a diverse group of youth working in New York as well as two young artists working in Iraq.
Ms. Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, stated that “sexual violence in conflict has been called history’s greatest silence, the least reported, the least condemned.” Mohammed reflected on the creation of the mandate as the UN’s commitment to “highlight, prevent and seek justice for these crimes” after it was established through the adoption of Security Council resolution 1888 in 2009.
A ‘survivors hearing’ panel was held with panelists sharing first and secondhand testimonies and recommendations from those who have experienced sexual violence in conflict. Ms. Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2018 Peace Prize Laureates, officially launched the “Global Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” to help survivors and their families rebuild through locally designed solutions including reparations for survivors. Read the 2019 annual “Conflict Related Sexual Violence” report of the United Nations Secretary General here.
by ELCA Advocacy
What do you expect to hear in the forthcoming 365 days as we approach the 2020 national election? Do you clench up a bit – anticipating rancor in the airwaves, on screens… not even excluding at coffee shops, dinner tables and perhaps even Fellowship Halls?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was among those who helped shape “Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics” out of concern about the polarization in our country by emphasizing the applicability of Christian ethical principles to our political discussions. “We believe that we can find guidance through this national dilemma in the teachings of Jesus,” reads a Statement of Support joined by the ELCA and several other Christian denominations and organizations. It continues:
“In particular, we believe that Jesus’ command to “do unto others as you would have the do unto you” should be taken seriously by Christians who engage in political activity. We also believe that if enough people follow this ‘Golden Rule’ principle, it will help generate the respect and civility we so desperately need in our country.’”
“When our tone is automatically uncivil and it’s automatically accusatory, how can we ever hope that we’re actually going to communicate with somebody else if we’ve already belittled and accused them?” said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, in a Religion News Service article (10/31/19) highlighting that civility is not mutually exclusive to speaking out against injustice.
Bishop Eaton drew present applicability in the article from Martin Luther’s explanation of the eighth commandment in the Small Catechism: “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”
On November 3, 2019 and in the year ahead, congregations and individuals are invited to pray for the healing of the divisions in our country and promote the use of the Golden Rule in our own political discussions and election activities in 2020. Resources affiliated with the Golden Rule 2020 movement include a #ReviveCivility pledge from the National Institute for Civil Discourse plus games and activities such as “Media Literacy for High School Students” and an one-on-one discussion guide.
Christians have differing theological and political views. The Golden Rule can give us guidance when we need to come together to solve our common problems.
September 13 marked the end of the 2019 legislative year. Governor Gavin Newsome has until October 13, 2019 to sign or veto legislation in his possession. LOPP-CA is eagerly awaiting the final disposition of legislation we have been following this session. Please standby for word on all of our legislative priorities.
CLIMATE EMERGENCY SUMMIT:
LOPP-CA had a unique opportunity to engage with faith leaders across the world and spanning numerous traditions at the Climate Emergency Summit hosted by ELCA Advocacy in New York, NY. The summit was an extension of the United Nations General Assembly and provided an opportunity to turn a faith-based lens to the work of climate justice in our world.
HUNGER FELLOW WELCOME:
LOPP-CA is pleased to welcome Ms. Nicole Newell to our office as the 2019-2020 California Hunger Advocacy Fellow. Nicole Newell joins this year’s ELCA Hunger Advocacy Fellows with a background in non-profit work, advocacy and teaching, both domestically and abroad. Her focus on food justice has led her to work in kitchens and on small-scale farms to develop context for sustainable food practices. With a BA in Practicing Theology from St. Olaf College, Nicole has a love for Lutherans and served with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington, DC from 2015-2016. She grew up in Des Moines, IA but was born in Sacramento. Nicole is eager to bring her passion for the intersections of faith and justice to effect policy-level change in California. Please look for ways to invite Nicole into your policy ministries.
SYNODICAL AND CONGREGATION VISIT THANK YOUS:
A sincere “Thank You” goes out to the pastors and members of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran in Simi Valley for their warm welcome this month. This congregation made a special effort to include Advocacy in their “Gods Work. Our Hands.” Day of Service observance, and it was truly special. Please consider adding an advocacy component to this and other special occasions in your ministry.
Similarly, Sierra Pacific Women of the ELCA offered a warm and sisterly welcome to their annual retreat September 18-20 at the beautiful Bishop’s Ranch retreat center in Healdsburg, CA. The majestic scenery was a great backdrop for worship, work and rejuvenation. Congratulations to the new board of SPWELCA, and we at LOPP-CA look forward to working together closely.