Religious nationalism is creating concerns globally. Nationalism, of any kind, is a construct of political power that often uses religious symbols to define who belongs in society. It is insidious, invasive, coercive, and destructive of true faith and democracy. It depends on the power to cast out rather than on the unconditional love of God.
In recent years the Council has increased its presence at the state legislature in partnership with allies who support policies that end impoverishment and promote multiethnic democracy. What had been a slow yet steady pace of bipartisan reforms is in reverse. Awash with nationalistic expressions, the current political environment threatens free public schools, public health, voting rights, the right to privacy, and the power to control our own bodies. Death penalty warrants are being issued in rapid succession, accurate history is prohibited, books banned, and non-conforming identities are publicly denied. Black and immigrant Floridians are facing increases of violence and prosecution.
Our faith voice matters. In 2023 it helped block predatory lending, pre-emption of living wage ordinances, cancellation of in-state tuition for immigrants, and the persecution of ministry among undocumented immigrants. The Council also hosted the 5th Anniversary Interfaith Memorial Vigil for the Parkland Victims. Addressing gun violence remains a continuing priority. And we offer a pastoral presence in the halls of the Capitol.
Participatory Grassroots Democracy
During the pandemic, the Council helped train 50 residents of St. Petersburg in hosting World Cafés so that they could enhance grass root democracy through conversational leadership. Additional trainings are contemplated for other parts of the state. See conversationaltlc.com
Caring for Creation
Before the pandemic, the Council had convened five annual interfaith climate action assemblies. Now through the Florida Network, an online lay community, we are exploring the Earth Charter as a lens to respond to the climate crisis. See fl-can.org
Mutual Peace: Beyond Violence
The executive director became a partner in a national collaborative tracking political and community violence. The group is designing a national convening of the various peace and non-violence networks. The convening will invite a paradigm shift to go beyond using violence as a useful tool in society. As a new network of networks emerges, faith communities will discover opportunities to realize the gospel of peace in their own ministries. See mutualpeace.org
An unsung service of the Council provides discounted workers compensation insurance to small congregations through a combined policy option. Contact the Council at email@example.com for information.FCC 2023