Advocacy is not a scary word. The dictionary definition above should make that plain enough, but maybe we can try to look at advocacy as something natural, even comfortable. In the middle of “advocacy” or “advocate” is the latin root voc or vox — voice. Advocacy simply means giving voice to your values and voicing your concerns. The opposite of advocacy is silent complicity with the status quo, a muted and inadequate response to God’s call to work for justice.
Raising voices in the faith community is central to the work we do at JRLC. When we advocate for justice we are collectively raising an interfaith, prophetic voice — telling the truth about power, oppression, injustice, and the ways that we fall short of protecting human dignity and God’s creation.
Advocacy is not just a critique. It also means giving voice to policy solutions that reflect participation, responsibility, effectiveness, solidarity, community, and self-governance.
We are blessed with two wonderful things in Minnesota. First, we have a democracy and a republican form of government that still work pretty well. Travel the world and say this is not so. We do not need to scream from the wilderness and hope that a tyrannical king will listen. We do not have to wait for plagues and locusts to get the ruler’s attention. All we have to do is advocate, organize, and vote. Minnesota’s state and local governments, for the most part, are very citizen-accessible and everyday citizens play an important role in shaping our public life.
Second, we have a JRLC — most states don’t. Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims in Minnesota have committed themselves to building an effective interfaith policymaking table and have fostered an extensive network of leaders from Ada to Zumbrota. We raise our voices —we advocate! — for just laws in Minnesota. Congregations, social justice committees, District Leaders, clergy and lay individuals can all be part of the JRLC Legislative Network. Check out the resources on the left-side of this page.
Here’s another way to look at advocacy. We voice concerns all the time. It’s just that most of us spend most of our time advocating for our own self-interest. Self-advocacy isn’t scary at all, but is this how God wants us to use our voices?