Christian political advocacy is a powerful opportunity for us to engage decision makers from a faith-based perspective and to show love for our neighbors in a tangible way.
Visiting a legislator’s office, either locally or in Washington, D.C., is the most effective way for a citizen to do advocacy. Meeting locally with your legislator works best during congressional recesses.
Here are some tips for making a congressional visit:
- Schedule your visit, preferably at least two weeks in advance, specifying the issue you would like to discuss. Mention a preferred date, length of meeting, and the number of people coming.
- Choose a specific issue to discuss and assign roles if you are visiting as a group.
- Prepare for the visit by researching information on your legislator’s co-sponsorship of bills and previous votes. The Washington Office is happy to help with this.
- Keep it short and simple. Keep your main message clear and concise, between three to five points. If possible, include personal stories. Listen well and feel free to ask them questions.
- Leave materials. It is useful to bring supporting materials or position papers to leave with the person you meet.
- Write a follow up letter thanking the legislator or staff member for the meeting. Reiterate your position.
- Let us know how it went!
Letters and e-mails are also excellent means to educate and persuade your member of Congress. Emails are good ways to ensure timely delivery of your views while providing a written record of your communication.
- Keep it short and focus on one subject.
- State your purpose and be clear what action you are asking the congressperson to take.
- Identify the bill or issue. It is helpful to summarize and include the bill number or legislation title when referring to a specific piece of legislation.
- Personalize your message. MCC often provides sample letters. Personalize them and use them to guide your own letter instead of copying them word-for-word. Be sure to identify yourself as a constituent and include personal stories and connections to your district.
- Say “well done.” Be sure to thank your congressperson when they vote the right way or take a courageous stand!
Use social media accounts to talk to your Members of Congress. Let them act as educational and motivational tools to affect the way Congress makes policy in relation to the issues you are concerned about. Here are a few ideas:
- Facebook: Monitor and contribute comments to your congressperson’s official Facebook page. Post things you find meaningful and helpful and tag your congressperson (i.e. @[name of congressperson]) to your posts.
- Twitter: Use Twitter to share what you’re doing with your Members of Congress by sending them a direct tweet or mentioning them in your tweet. Look up a specific hashtag for topics you are tweeting on by using tagdef.com.
Many thanks to the following interns, who helped us out in 2013:
Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend
Ecumenical Advocacy Days
Jesus weeps—Resisting violence, building peace
Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia