As we near the end of the year, we recognize the final month of our shared #PrayFastAct campaign with The Episcopal Church. Over the course of the last two years, we have been grateful for our shared ecumenical partnership, focusing on the ways systemic change can make a meaningful difference for those of us struggling with poverty.
Focusing on a different theme each month (from hunger, health, community, shelter, and much more), the #PrayFastAct campaign stemmed from the recognition that effective approaches to poverty address the needs of the whole human person. Taking a small amount of time out of our busy schedules each month to pray, fast and act may seem like a small step; but in routine action it can serve as a transformative tool to ensure our neighbors do not fall through the cracks when times are hard. Through the end of this month, we hope you have a chance to review the current alerts found at ELCA Action Center and ELCA.org/prayfastact that address many of those needs today.
We act out of the conviction that the status quo has not been effective enough for many of us in need, and that conviction continues. Look forward to an upcoming video later this month to see a full review of our campaign, and what steps are ahead for 2019. Continue reading “ELCA ADVOCACY DECEMBER, PRAY, FAST and ACT”
ELCA Advocacy, Washington D.C.
RESPONDING TO GUN VIOLENCE AND HATE: Our nation is in mourning this week following the tragic deaths of 11 worshipers and the wounding of law enforcement and others at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This act was quickly identified as a hate crime, committed by a gunman espousing anti-Semitic vitriol and carrying an AR-15 and other weapons intending to take the lives of people because of their Jewish faith. The same weekend, two African American shoppers were gunned down by a white man in Kentucky, an act also being investigated as a hate crime. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we cannot become numb to mass shooting tragedies. We are called as God’s own people to promote peace and the dignity of persons all by engaging in prayer, addressing community violence, and vigorously opposing anti-Semitism, white supremacy and all form of hate through our words and deeds. Lutheran bishops in Pennsylvania joined in a shared statement in response to this tragedy. As Pennsylvania Lutherans reflect on recent events, read more about actions taken by ELCA bishops and faith leaders in the full state update.
And, when Congress returns to work following the November elections, it is also imperative that we address the gun violence in our nation. An Advocacy Alert facilitating your faithful action is available at http://elca.org/advocacy/actioncenter. Continue reading “ELCA Advocacy Update for the month of November. “
DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY, INDIGENOUS RIGHTS CHALLENGES, CLIMATE CHANGE: Synods that include California held their professional leadership conferences in October, and LOPP-CA director Mark Carlson participated in Theoasis in Palm Desert, which brought together the Pacifica and Southwest California synods and the Sierra Pacific Synod’s gathering in Olympic Park (still predominately known as “Squaw Valley,” an infamous, negative name in the experience of American Indians). Prairie Rose Seminole, ELCA director for American Indian and Alaskan Native Ministries, discussed her work, with a focus on the Doctrine of Discovery.
Before meeting in Olympic Park, Carlson and Jane Affonso, an LOPP-CA Policy Council member, Southwest California Synod Council member and synod Green Faith Team co-chair, invited Seminole to join them in Sacramento for a Methodist-sponsored lecture by White House correspondent April Ryan and the annual Acorn Day at the State Indian Museum. They then made a pilgrimage to Shasta Dam, the McCloud River and the lower slopes of Mount Shasta, near sites sacred to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe threatened by the renewed push to raise Shasta Dam to quench thirsty farms and cities in Central and Southern California – the Doctrine of Discovery in current application, driven in part by climate change. The photo of Seminole at the dam is similar to one of Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk that appears in a 33-minute segment of the documentary Standing on Sacred Ground
2018 LEGISLATIVE ACTION CONCLUDED: Sept. 30 was the deadline for departing Gov. Jerry Brown to take action on bills passed in the two-year session. With considerable fanfare, he signed SB 100 (September Advocacy Update), placing California on a path to 100 percent clean electrical energy by 2045. He signed several other LOPP-CA-supported bills related to protecting California’s coast from any new federal offshore oil leases, and expanding environmental justice protections for disadvantaged communities. Of other bills supported by LOPP-CA, he signed measures enhancing disclosure of campaign contributions for social media political advertising, narrowing the sweep of the “felony murder rule” that has significant racial disparities, and requiring greater disclosure of video footage and personnel information in police deadly force incidents.
|Sign at Global Climate Action Summit
GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION SUMMIT: LOPP-CA was part of the leadership team for Lutheran-hosted “Talanoa Dialogue” events on “Loss & Damage” and “Just Transition,” held at Grace Cathedral during the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
|The Rev. Dan Smith (left), Mary Shaima and Joann Anderson.
NEW BOOK: Retired U.S. Rep. Lois Capps’ (Santa Barbara) new book, Keeping Faith in Congress – Why Persistence, Compassion, and Teamwork Will Save Our Democracy, was published in September (Fortress Press). LOPP-CA had been involved in encouraging Capps to pursue the book project as she retired from Congress two years ago. She is a former board member of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., and an alumna of Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash., and Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.
BUDGET UPDATE: With no line-item vetoes, Gov. Jerry Brown approved a General Fund budget of about $140 billion that includes items supported by LOPP-CA to increase the CalWORKS/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families assistance grants intended to relieve childhood poverty, increase spending for child care, expand census outreach and make the state Earned Income Tax Credit available for more low-income taxpayers. Proposals to provide Medi-Cal (Medicaid) coverage for low-income young adults and seniors, regardless of immigration status, did not make it into the final budget. LOPP-CA Director Mark Carlson mixed with some of the Poor People’s Campaign participants and tried to connect some of the “outside” protestors with actual budget and legislative decisions being made “inside.”
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: LOPP-CA was site host for a California Interfaith Power & Light Advocacy Day, supporting bills to set stronger goals for renewable electrical energy (SB 100), protect California’s coastline should the federal government seek to expand offshore oil drilling, and establish goals for carbon reduction from ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. LOPP-CA also offered brief testimony in the Senate Elections Committee supporting stronger sponsor and funding disclosure in social media ads for ballot measures.
NOVEMBER BALLOT: California voters will decide on 12 measures, three placed on the ballot by the Legislature and nine that reached via the initiative petition process. Our priority continues to be the housing bond, cahahousing.org (Programs and Initiative). Carlson hosted the June conference of ELCA rostered leaders gathering at a permanent supportive housing site where Lutheran Social Services of Northern California provides services (photo).
On Saturday, July 21, we join with The Episcopal Church in our monthly commitment to #PrayFastAct. This month, our focus is on protecting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security for the future. Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are the core of our nation’s medical and income safety net for the elderly, unemployed, underemployed and disabled. In recent decades, investments in programs that spur the economic potential of individuals has declined, which has led to an increase in the number of people needing the support of these programs. Together, these programs and other safety net measures represent a significant amount of annual federal spending.
Recently, proposals have been made to change the programs by manipulating eligibility or coverage to reduce spending. Difficult, but responsible, changes require Congress and the nation to invest in programs that reduce the long-term need for these programs and minimize the individual impact of the economic cycle so that these programs can cost less because they are needed less.
FARM BILL: The Senate passed a bipartisan 2018 farm bill last month that ELCA Advocacy supported. The bill will now go to a conference between the House and Senate. ELCA Advocacy plans to work to ensure that the Senate bill prevails over the House bill, which would make cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Learn more about the Senate and House versions of the farm bill by reading “The Senate Farm Bill: What a Difference Bipartisanship Makes” on the ELCA Advocacy blog.
MIGRATION AND AMMPARO: In June, the House rejected a hardline immigration bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) would have drastically cut the nation’s legal immigration levels and provided funding for building a border wall, while also offering temporary status for “Dreamers.” ELCA Advocacy opposed the bill. The House has yet to vote on a proposed compromise immigration bill. You can take action on this issue by visiting the ELCA Advocacy Action Center.
President Trump signed an executive order to address family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. The executive order fails to end the zero-tolerance policy that criminalizes parents and expands family detention. ELCA Advocacy will continue to stand against family detention, advocating instead for community-based alternatives to detentions. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has piloted alternatives for families. Continue reading “ELCA Advocacy, Washington D.C. JULY 21, PRAY. FAST. ACT.”
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has convened ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious partners in a statement addressing concerns over a recent U.S. government policy calling for more stringent enforcement of federal immigration laws. The policy will most likely result in an increase in family separations.
The letter follows:
Recently, the Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the well-being of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news.
We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.
As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.
Continue reading “ELCA Presiding Bishop and Faith Leaders Issue Statement on Family Separation”
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: May 31 concluded consideration of legislation, and activity has intensified on the 2018-19 state budget, due on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk June 15. The bill process cycles again until final adjournment of the two-year session at the end of August. Faith advocates, who had worked together to support increasing the CalWORKS/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families support to 50 percent of the federal poverty level, part of an effort to tackle child poverty, were amazed to see diverse senators speaking in support with an unexpected final vote of 39-0! Perhaps a more challenging task is continuing work to reach the two-thirds threshold to enact a very small fee on water bills to support safe and affordable water in disadvantaged communities.
STATE UPDATE: California has been blessed with a revenue surplus of about $9 billion, much of that a result of volatile personal income taxes on capital gains. Besides the CalWORKS proposal, Gov. Brown, a fiscal moderate, will be challenged by legislative proposals, supported by LOPP-CA, for income-eligible Medicaid coverage of 19- to 25-year-olds and people 65 and older, regardless of immigration status (#Health4All), expansion of census outreach efforts, and continued rebuilding of deep cuts to child care during the recession (#SpringforKids #BillionforBabies).
SYNOD ASSEMBLIES: LOPP-CA Director Mark Carlson participated in the Pacifica Synod Assembly in Palm Desert, and the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly in Sacramento. Mark was blessed to take Bishop Medardo Gomez and his wife, Abelina, of El Salvador to the Capitol for lunch during the final hectic deadline day, meeting staff, a state senator and the Spanish-speaking advocate for the California Environmental Justice Alliance. They participated in the LOPP-CA synod breakfast with guest speaker Eric Guerra, a Sacramento City Council member brought to the U.S. without documents at preschool-age.
Mark Carlson, Director Lutheran Office of Public Policy