Advocacy Issues and Resolutions for the New Year Resolve to contact your representatives about important issues at least once a month! Here are the top concerns from ELCA Advocacy.
REFORM OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
In early 2015, the ELCA, alongside our faith community partners, demanded criminal justice sentencing reform to restore a common sense approach to non- violent drug sentencing. We know that excessively high mandatory minimum sentences over-crowd federal prisons, unfairly punish our brothers and sisters living in poverty, and do little to reduce crime. We are pleased that Congress responded! The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S.2123) is a bipartisan piece of legislation that makes modest reforms to the federal criminal justice system by restoring the ability of federal judges to determine fairer and more realistic sentences, and by reducing mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses. This call is shared by both sides of the isle in Congress, and now the President has joined. We are pleased by the momentum this important legislation is gaining, and we will continue our advocacy efforts until common sense reforms are made.
COMMIT TO REDUCING EXTREME POVERTY
Millions of people around the world continue to suffer from extreme poverty. Food insecurity, lack of medical services, gender-based violence, and humanitarian crises are some of the issues we will continue to focus on this year. The U.S. government plays a critical role in improving the lives of our brothers and sisters in need. It is imperative that we hold our government accountable to its commitments to reducing extreme poverty. A big part of this work is to ensure that Congress allocates funds for existing relief and development programs, as well as to advocate for systemic reforms so that these programs are more efficient.
PROTECT THOSE WHO SEEK SAFETY
ELCA Advocacy will continue to focus on ensuring that U.S. policies protect those who must leave their homes in search of safety. In 2015, we joined with faith leaders across the country to speak out against religious discrimination in our refugee system and asked for a compassionate investment in Central America to address the displacement of unaccompanied children and families. This year, we will continue to urge the U.S. government to ensure that funding recently allocated for Central America is spent in ways that protect those fleeing violence and persecution. In addition, we will work to make sure that refugees coming through Europe receive appropriate humanitarian protections.
FULFILL OUR PROMISE TO CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION
In 2015 the Obama Administration issued two final rules under the Clean Air Act that restrict carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the primary causes of climate change. The carbon rules are the centerpiece of the Administration’s strategy to carry out pledges made in Paris toward a new global climate change agreement that will go into effect in 2020. Although the carbon rules are now final, Congress has the ability to challenge them under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The House and Senate held a CRA vote on the rules last fall, but failed to get enough votes to override a Presidential veto. This spring, ELCA Advocacy will take action as Congress again considers use of the CRA to block these rules, and will continue to build upon last year’s legislative successes, such as protecting U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
“Along with all citizens, Christians have the responsibility to defend human rights, and to work for freedom, justice, peace, environmental well-being, and good order in public life.” – ELCA social statement: “The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective”
To learn more about our ELCA Advocacy priorities and to take action, visit www.ELCA.org today!
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