Groups to Advocate for Police Reform In Federal, State and Local Government
ATLANTA, GA—A diverse coalition of Christian organizations, pastors, and leaders today announced the Prayer & Action Justice Initiative, a nationwide effort to advocate for racial justice and nonpartisan police reforms across America. The coalition was spearheaded by the AND Campaign and includes the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), National Association of Evangelicals, Prison Fellowship, the Center for Public Justice, and the American Bible Society, among others. The effort will involve prayer gatherings, peaceful protests, nonpartisan public policy advocacy, and support for at-risk churches, largely in minority communities.
“This is an unprecedented coalition of Biblical Christians from all demographics, who are coming together to address racial injustice in strategic and tangible ways,” said Justin Giboney, President of the AND Campaign. “We’re putting partisanship aside to pursue justice as is dictated in the Bible. The American Church is sending a clear, unequivocal message in opposition to injustice and in support of Black and Brown people who’ve suffered for too long in America.”
—Justin Giboney, President of the AND Campaign
Most of this coalition came together through the Churches Helping Churches Challenge, an initiative from the Spring to help small houses of worship that were at-risk of closing due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown. The Prayer & Action Justice Initiative coalition also includes Dr. John Jenkins (First Baptist Church of Glenarden), Super Bowl champion Benjamin Watson , Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Attorney Randy Singer (Trinity Church), Movement Day , Pulse Movement , National Day of Prayer , and World Relief, among others. To see the full list, or learn more about the effort, visit: www.PrayerAndActionCoalition.org.
Police and Justice Reform
This Prayer & Action Justice Initiative coalition will urge local, state and federal elected leaders to pass meaningful nonpartisan criminal justice reforms that improve public safety, ensure equitable treatment of all Americans by police, and create a more fair criminal justice system. The Center for Public Justice, a Christian think tank organization, and Prison Fellowship, a Christian organization for prisoners, returning citizens, and their families, have individually advocated for criminal justice reform in Washington, DC, and will help lead the Prayer & Action Justice Initiative’s advocacy to government. “In a divisive culture, the Prayer and Action Initiative is an opportunity for the Church to advance racial justice by demonstrating unity and clarity in conviction,” said Heather Rice-Minus, Senior VP of Advocacy and Church Mobilization for Prison Fellowship. “Our desire is to be an instrument of peace in our communities and a reckoning force for change in the halls of government.”
Below are the guiding public policy principles that the coalition is advocating for:
- Equality - We seek policies designed to level the playing field so that outcomes are driven more by justice than wealth or race.
- Accountability - We believe that both crime and police misconduct breach the public’s trust and require accountability. We seek just laws that require accountability for all wrongdoers, including those involved in the administration of justice, and provide opportunities to make amends.
- Transparency - We seek laws, regulations and practices that enhance transparency in all aspects of the criminal justice system, including open file discovery for criminal cases, and robust reporting on law enforcement, judiciary, and corrections institutions, such as public disclosure of use-of-force reports, deaths in custody, parole decisions, and other relevant data.
- Proportionality - We support policy changes that ensure sentencing is proportional, not dictated by draconian or overreaching sentencing laws.
- Restoration - Even after paying their debt to society, the 70 million men and women with criminal records in America continue to face systemic and often life-long barriers to education, housing, employment, and other opportunities. We believe that can change through transformative faith-based prison programs, teaching of life and work skills, and a restorative reintegration into society that reflects the God-given dignity of every person.
Biblical Justice and Race Statement
As part of the initiative, each group and leader has collectively agreed to a Biblical Justice and Race Statement. Below are excerpts from the statement:
Churches Helping Churches Challenge
From April to July, the Churches Helping Churches Challenge raised over $1 million and gave $3,000 grants to hundreds of churches, most of them in urban, minority, or immigrant communities. In April and May, the initiative raised $700,000 through various forms of church outreach and a major benefit simulcast concert on May 15 with Pulse and recording artists like Lauren Daigle, Kirk Franklin and Lecrae. In June and July, Churches Helping Churches transitioned to regional initiatives in states like California and Michigan, raising an additional $600,000. According to an August 18 survey from Barna Group, 10% of church leaders are unsure that their church will survive this pandemic. As part of the Prayer & Action Justice Initiative, Christians are encouraged to continue supporting small at-risk churches as they serve their neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic, primarily in minority communities.