Church lobbyists represent diverse views

It’s pretty commonly known that voices from the Religious Right have a strong lobbying presence in Washington DC and in many state capitals. But there’s a small, growing group of voices from the Mainline denominations and the liberal churches too.

An article in the Arkansas Times reports on the phenomenon;

Most of the faith-based lobbyists working the Arkansas legislature are from the political Right, but the Left is not bereft of Christian soldiers. Rev. Steve Copley, a Methodist minister and political activist, is among the most prominent. He’s worked with labor groups, among others, and chaired the Arkansas Interfaith Committee For Worker Justice, a coalition that succeeded in raising the minimum wage. He now chairs the Arkansas Friendship Coalition, which hopes to prevent passage of legislation detrimental to immigrants. The Coalition fears discrimination against newcomers and believes that immigration policy should be set at the national level, not by the separate states.

Religious Right lobbyists don’t deal much with questions about separation of church and state. Most of them don’t believe in the concept, and if someone suggests that preachers stay out of politics, they’re apt to note the political involvement of black preachers like Martin Luther King Jr.

As a liberal, Copley sometimes has to confront the church-state question, though it’s not something he agonizes over.

“My understanding of church and state is that the state is not to establish a state religion,” Copley said. “The Constitution didn’t exclude people with religion from speaking in the public square. All voices should be heard in the public square, including the religious voice. We all make decisions on what’s right or wrong based on our values. My values include religion.”

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