Social and Political Advocacy
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Social and political advocacy
This page was last modified on
8 February 2010
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The ecumenical churches have been engaged on issues of public policy and moral values for more than 100 years, adopting the "Social Creed of the Churches" in 1908, a document which was updated for the 21st Century by the NCC General Assembly in 2007.
The NCC office in Washington DC addresses the moral and ethical dimensions of public policy issues, working from a policy base developed and approved by the member communions over many decades. Its activities are carried out under the guidance of the Council's Justice and Advocacy Commission and several working groups composed of justice specialists on the staffs of NCC member communions. From its founding in 1950, the Council has sought to keep church constituencies informed about developments of interest in the realm of public policy, and has made the views of the ecumenical community known to government leaders and others in places of public leadership. Where its member communions have not reached a policy consensus on an issue, the NCC does not speak.
The Council has long voiced support for minimum wage laws, environmentalist policies, and affirmative action, and played an important role in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. A thriving program of women's ministry is also part of the Council's current justice work.
NCC partners with other faith-inspired groups, such as Bread for the World, Habitat for Humanity, and Children's Defense Fund, to press for broad policy initiatives that address poverty issues. The Council helped launch the Let Justice Roll grassroots anti-poverty campaign that has been successful in raising the minimum wage in more than 20 states since 2005.
The Council's Eco-Justice Program, supervised by a working group of NCC communions, is one of the most successful faith-based advocacy programs on Capitol Hill, receiving wide acclaim for its work on global warming, energy conservation, environmental health, food and farming, and wilderness lands.
The NCC Communication Commission is one of the founders of 'So We Might See', an interfaith coalition that promotes media access and representation by all faith traditions, ethnic and economic groups. Other coalition members are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Islamic Society of North America, Presbyterian News Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Communications, and the project's managing partner, United Church of Christ.
The NCC's communions sometimes face opposition to their ecumenical efforts to address justice issues. In July 2005, the Antiochian Orthodox Church suspended its participation in the NCC. Father George Kevorkian, an assistant to the denomination's senior cleric, said that the Church objected because "the NCC...seems to have taken a turn toward political positioning."
Figures in the conservative movement accuse the NCC of holding a biased policy towards Cuba, and criticize relative silence by the NCC towards political and religious prisoners in countries with left-leaning and totalitarian leadership.
In spring 2007, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in Tehran with a visiting delegation of Christian leaders from a number of U.S. faith groups, including some from the National Council of Churches. During the candid conversation, the group challenged Ahmadinejad's statements about the Holocaust and his alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, was among those who criticized the visit.
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