ARLINGTON, Va. — The ninth annual gathering of Ecumenical Advocacy Days opened with an enthusiastic show of support for faith-based social justice work.
Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, asked the 700 participants to raise their hands if they thought the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a better theologian than Glenn Beck. The conservative radio and TV show host recently encouraged his audience to leave their churches if they hear the words “social justice” or “economic justice.”
As the crowd at EAD raised their hands and cheered in support of social justice programs, they affirmed the work that the conference focuses on — mobilizing Christian advocates around a central theme through worship, witness, and lobbying for domestic and international issues. This year’s theme is “A Place to Call Home: Immigrants, Refugees and Displaced Peoples.”
About 100 Presbyterians are attending the conference.
“Social justice is essential to the gospel that we proclaim,” Kinnamon said. “(It’s a) mark of faithfulness to the one who taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
The topic of immigration can be a divisive one in the United States. But for the participants at EAD, the issue isn’t political — it’s faithful. Some attendees will lobby their members of Congress, calling for humane, equitable immigration reform, enactment of the Jubilee Act, and assistance to forcibly displaced people.
Kinnamon listed three reasons why people of faith should advocate for immigrants, refugees, and displaced people.
“Each person, resident, or immigrant, documented or undocumented, is a child of God … and should therefore be treated with dignity and kindness,” Kinnamon said.
In addition, the increasing interconnectedness of the world and the Christian responsibility to welcome the stranger call for work in these areas, he said.
“This is not a call for tolerance,” Kinnamon said. “It is a call for hospitality.”