Voices for Change

Advocacy ministries of the ELCA want to share stories and your voices about public policies and relevant advocacy issues that are of interest to you.

Connect with Your State Public Policy Office

Posted on April 20, 2011 by Advocacy Ministries of the ELCA
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In Wisconsin, legislators are considering cutting state funding for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a proven anti-poverty initiative. The Colorado legislature is poised to cut health care funding for low-income children. In California, another round of funding cuts to K-12 education is being debated. And in New Mexico, funding for a state nutrition program for low-income seniors was just eliminated.

Similar state budget cuts are taking place all across the United States.

Christ Lutheran and Minnesota State Capitol

Minnesota's State Capitol Building and Christ Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Mark Peters, director, Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota

In state capitols around the country, elected officials are required by law to balance their budgets. Unfortunately states are choosing to cut funding for key human needs’ programs due to decreased state tax revenues from the recession.

This current round of cuts for state-funded social programs comes on top of deep cuts already made over the last few years. Alarmingly, at the exact time states have been cutting funding for essential services, the need for these programs has risen as more and more families seek assistance due to unemployment and stagnant wages.

The ELCA has long recognized the importance of decisions made by state legislatures. Our State Public Policy Office (SPPO) network works to ensure that the needs of the country’s most vulnerable people are given high priority in state capitols.

The State Public Policy Offices speak to the biblical values of hospitality to strangers, care for creation, and concern for people living in poverty and struggling with hunger and disease. We encourage you to connect with your State Public Policy Office and advocate for just state policies for people in need. To see a list of our SPPOs and to learn more, click here.

9 Responses to 'Connect with Your State Public Policy Office'

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  1. on April 20th, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Just why does the ELCA seem so focused on “turning to
    Rome” for the wellness of its people? Why the focus on government action rather than our own?

    Is it the belief of the ELCA that our dependence upon the largess of the government is in place of our faith in the largess of God to help his people? Do we doubt God’s ability to deliver? Just how miserable would we be if our children could all go to Lutheran schools if they wished? Just when did the ELCA decide to apply Grace to Justify Activism?

  2. Jodi Slattery said,

    on April 20th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Help from churches and organizations can only do so much, the funding from government can make a difference in the lives of thousands, sometimes millions of people. Don’t we owe it to our brothers and sisters to help when we can? Does not our Christian faith compel us to step out of our comfort zones to address unjust systems and policies?

  3. phil fraulino said,

    on April 20th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    The ELCA has eliminated State Policy Offices
    in som e cases, ie. Maryland and lost synod support in this areas in Metro DC and MD/DELAWARE SYNODS. NOT EVEN SURE SYNODS WILL GO along with ecumenical interdenominational solution as was done in Virginia for many years.


  4. on April 20th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Jodi, perhaps you can help me. I’m finding it difficult to appreciate a faith based position that we should demand of the the government, that it apply it’s unique ability to force individuals through taxation, to accomplish good for others. In so doing, might they also ask of themselves that perhaps faith based organizations should be taxed as well?

    This is treacherous territory ask people at the Christal Cathedral, we can’t have it both ways.

    I’m delighted to learn that the ELCA is eliminating it’s state offices. The California ELCA office often held positions profoundly hostile to Lutheran School Churches….. I didn’t quite get that part.

  5. Sara O.Rehms said,

    on April 21st, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Our faith compels us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves …defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31 8-9) and calls us to action “..whatever you did to the least of these, you did for me…” (Matt. 25:40). The church should be at the forefront and we are blessed as Americans and as Christians to have the voice, the right and the duty to encourage government to remember these principles as they legislate. I feel blessed that we as Lutherans have a voice through the Offices of Public Policy, and that they keep us appraised of current legislation affecting the ‘poor and needy’. They don’t back candidates, they look at issues. And personally, I’m happy any part of my taxes would go to help those in need…and blessed to have a voice to help direct those taxes. Regarding the Crystal Cathedral, their woes with the government are a factor of being outside of IRS guidelines for a non-profit… not their stances on justice issues.

  6. Mark Carlson said,

    on April 21st, 2011 at 10:06 am

    In an attempt to aid in understanding, the assertion that Mr. Coss made that the “California ELCA office often held positions profoundly hostile to Lutheran School Churches” needs some clarification and specificity. On two occasions, in 1993 and 2000, the Policy Council of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California recommended a No vote on citizen initiative measures which would have established school vouchers, and which were defeated by voters. In California, initiatives are a blessing and a curse, and the “devil is in the details.” In exercising its judgment in both cases, the LOPP-CA Policy Council placed primary emphasis on children from families in poverty, and a healthy public school system. When the ELCA social message on education was under development, LOPP-CA organized a listening post at a large Lutheran pre-K through 8 school. LOPP-CA has been a strong interpreter and occasional advocate for the child care parental choice provisions of both the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which created the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). These allow children from poor families to choose “sectarian” care with religious content such as chapel and grace before meals, and are an important means by which Lutheran child development centers address poverty. A primary venue for the LOPP-CA voice was the California Child Development Policy Advisory Committee, eliminated when the dot.com bubble burst and state revenues plunged in the early 2000′s. In the last few weeks, state funding for child care for low-income families has been reduced by about one-third. Time limits and financial assistance for TANF families were also reduced, along with Medicaid services. There are plenty of opportunities for congregations to try to fill the gap to keep children learning, parents earning, and all healthy and adequately fed! LOPP-CA has also been helpful in obtaining resources for a garden at a Lutheran child development center. It continues to relate to a diverse group of advocates for child care, including the California Association for the Education of Young Children (which many Lutheran child care staff are involved in), and Fight Crime/Invest in Kids, a law enforcement prevention campaign. LOPP-CA also promotes to Lutheran centers the resources of California First Five Children and Families Commissions, funded by a tobacco tax, and the executive director of one county First Five, who is Lutheran, will be doing a workshop at an upcoming synod assembly.

  7. JB said,

    on April 22nd, 2011 at 6:30 am

    Not sure what Bible you’re reading, Thomas. There are literally thousands of references to the general and ongoing obligation to love and serve the poor. Taking the EIC from people to give to the wealthy is not in keeping with either the First of Second Testament.

    “Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” Matthew 19:21
    “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35
    “They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:40
    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” Luke 4:18
    “So he replied to the messengers, Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.’” Luke 7:22 [ E-book: The Kingdom strikes back ]
    “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33
    “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” Luke 14:13

  8. Sara Rehms said,

    on April 22nd, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    I also think it’s a simple as: if we are going to claim to be a nation “under God” then we should act as such. As JB has pointed out, there are countless Bible verses that compel us to love and serve the poor …. the Office of Public Policy helps me immensely by pointing out areas that are critical and in need of attention. I wish everyone realized what a service they provide!

  9. Jodi Slattery said,

    on April 25th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Thomas, I’m sorry to hear you are having difficulty. I believe Sara, Mark and JB have done well to explain the strong faith-based positions.

    I do wish to expand on what Phil stated. The ELCA, in being fiscally responsible, did have to eliminate some SPPOs, but we have not and will not be eliminating all of the offices as you seem to imply. The work the SPPOs do are quite valuable, especially to the people living in those states.

    Furthermore, the offices and the people affected by the cuts are not something that I would “delight” in. I am delighted, however, in the amazing grassroots work that does continue to help people struggling in poverty.