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A Teachable Moment for Organizers

September 5, 2008, 1:39 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

Reading the numerous and powerful responses from community organizers to political insults of their work, it occurs to me that such words slight Faith In Public Life’s work organizing diverse religious leaders across the country. We can deal with the derision — it won’t stand in the way of our work for the common good. But the ignorance on display presents a teachable moment.

We promote a vision of faith in the public square that rises above the sniping of the culture wars and claims space in the values debate for justice and the common good, and faith-based community organizing is where this rubber meets the road. Groups resourced by Faith In Public Life, such as We Believe Ohio and We Believe Colorado, are composed of faith leaders from a variety of traditions who take action at the state and local level on causes such as raising the minimum wage and fighting payday lending, preventing racial profiling and improving education. Rather than embroiling themselves in polarization for political gain, they work to actually promote justice and improve their communities.

Faith-based community organizing does not pit Republicans against Democrats. What it does is put social progress above political showmanship. Our faiths call us to walk humbly and work for justice, and organizers at the grassroots level do just that. It is worthy of praise, not punchlines. We are proud of our work in faith-based community organizing, and we believe that politicians of all stripes will be as well if they take the time to learn what it’s all about.

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One Response to “A Teachable Moment for Organizers”

  1. Kristin says:

    Well put, Dan. It’s a shame that the work of community organizers has been so carelessly dismissed by those in positions of power. It’s even a bit ironic; community organizers work to empower the powerless, meanwhile, those in power are unable to value these contributions to our society.

    And to those of you who are working for change in your neighborhoods, holding your elected officials accountable, bringing people together, working for change and positive transformations: keep up the good work!