Generally, advocacy is standing with or standing for a person or group that is disadvantaged or denied justice in society.
Many approaches are needed to confront the myriad public policy issues related to Latin America; the faith community can contribute in significant ways. Through the actions of people of many faiths, churches, synagogues, and other faith-based communities in North America can work in collaboration with the churches and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean to promote greater understanding between the two continents, to explore new structures of justice and equality, and to support social and political instruments that can promote peace, the respect for human rights, and the elimination of poverty in the hemisphere.
A dynamic faith is expressed in Latin America. This is seen in a rich congregational life and vital denominational structures. In addition, international connections are maintained through congregational partnerships (“sister parishes” and “companion synods”) and relationships with and among national and international agencies: World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Reformed Ecumenical Council, Baptist World Alliance, Church World Service, Caribbean Conference of Churches, Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), Cuban Council of Churches, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Canadian Council of Churches, Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and many others. United States church and synagogue visitors to Latin America find a people overwhelmingly generous in love and hospitality for their neighbors from the north, even as they often criticize the U.S. government’s policies.
Oftentimes, people of faith struggle with how to respond to situations of injustice at home and abroad, as we witness U.S. policies that directly affect the lives of people who live in Latin America and elsewhere. The desire in people of faith to address the social, spiritual and political causes of this widespread injustice, poverty, and abuse of human rights needs an outlet.
Many denominations and faith-based organizations address this desire, or faith mandate, in their support for advocacy, through their social statements, on their websites, and through the work of their staff.
Advocacy is an action taken by individuals, groups, or organizations to defend, support, protect, or enhance others. Generally, advocacy is standing with or standing for a person or group that is disadvantaged or denied justice in society. In the effort to bring about justice, advocacy may include education, affecting public policy, joining coalitions, and participating in nonviolent direct actions. Effective advocacy enables and supports individuals and groups working to correct the injustices or abuses to which they are subjected.
- “Solidarity: A Reflection” by Rev. Mari Castellanos, D. Min., at Ecumenical Advocacy Days March 2006