More Texans and more Christians should be engaged in our government, this is especially true of Christians. Only 9 percent of Texans have contacted their elected officials, according to the Annette Strauss Institute Texas Civic Health Index. Given the small number of Texans contacting their elected officials imagine the outsized influence this 9 percent has on the actions or votes of their government representatives?
The CLC has two opportunities for Texas Baptists to come to the Capitol in the next two months to learn more about Christian advocacy and meet with their representatives. First, on February 12, we will be co-sponsoring a Human Trafficking Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Then, on March 5, we will have our CLC Advocacy Day. We hope that you will join us for one or more of these events at the Capitol.
We believe the Bible commands us to be a voice for the voiceless and condemn injustice (Proverbs 31:8-9). As Christians, our advocacy for the poor, the marginalized, the orphan and the widow is discipleship (Isaiah 58). It is a part of our public witness and it is how we can demonstrate our concern for justice. God is very much concerned with justice, we see it in His reproach of the Israelites in the Old Testament, in the ministry of Jesus Christ and in the writings and testimonies of the disciples.
Private charity is wonderful, but sometimes the people who come to our churches for help are facing systemic issues which require attention beyond the immediate need. Addressing the deeper issues with our elected officials is where Christian advocates have an opportunity to create change that can go far beyond the reach of one food pantry.
Advocacy is just speaking up about the systemic issues facing those in our care to those people in the position to make a positive change. Many laypeople feel as though advocacy is not for them, but if you participate in your child's PTA you are an advocate, if you have questioned your parents doctor then you are an advocate, if you have spoken at your HOA or joined your neighborhood watch, you are an advocate. It can be done at the local level (school boards, city council meetings, neighborhood associations) or the national level (congressional hearings or visiting your Senator or Congressperson).
So where do you begin?
- Advocacy should begin with missions.
- Maybe you have volunteered with your church's prison ministry or food pantry?
- What problems have you observed or have been shared with you?
- Educate yourself on the issues
- Read books to learn more about the issue.
- Meet experts both within your church or in the larger community
- See what other people or groups who care about the same things are doing
- Make a visit or phone call, write a letter or email
- Describe what you have seen, read, heard, experienced and why its important to you
- Exercise civility, integrity and humility
- Do not engage in partisan politics or personal attacks
As Christians, we absolutely should engage in public policy. As citizens and concerned neighbors and friends, we have a tremendous opportunity to be a point of light in an often dark place.