As the Center for Public Justice Guideline on Citizenship states, “Electoral reform needs to go deeper than campaign finance reform or making it easier for citizens to register and vote, important as these are. Reform must get to the root of the sense of powerlessness or meaninglessness that many citizens feel about elections and politics in general….Citizens should not mistake the right to express political opinions through interest groups and the media for the right to exercise influence in and through elected representatives. Real political influence requires a voice in government through those whom voters truly want as their representatives. Only an electoral system that allows for adequate representation of all organized voices can do justice to citizens in a democracy.”
APJ advocates for electoral reform that includes ranked choice voting, also called instant runoff voting, a process that allows broad participation from a wide range of voices, allowing third-party and independent candidates to have a genuine voice in the political process (rather than playing the role of “spoiler”). You can read more about the advantages of Ranked Choice Voting here.
Institutional Religious Freedom
APJ advocates for policies that preserve and promote the freedom of faith-based organizations to serve and contribute to the common good. Such policies include the freedom to hire staff on a religious basis and the freedom to partner with the federal government to deliver vital social services in ways that are consistent with the organization’s deeply held religious convictions. APJ believes that Christians have an obligation to advocate for such freedoms not only for Christian organizations but for all religious organizations. You can learn more about institutional religious freedom at the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.
Fairness for All
As this article explains, “Fairness for All is a legislative construct that would ensure that LGBTQ Americans cannot be denied access to employment, housing, financial credit, social service programs funded by federal money, service in business establishments, or jury duty service simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But it would also ensure that churches and religious organizations that define marriage or gender differently than the United States government will not be found to be engaging in discriminatory actions simply because of their religious beliefs.”
Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 5331, Fairness for All honors the image of God in LGTBQ people while also maintaining freedom for churches, mosques, synagogues and faith-based organizations to engage in their mission in ways that are consistent with their deeply-held religious beliefs, including the historic biblical understanding of marriage and human sexuality. For more information on how Fairness for All honors the pluralistic nature of our society, protecting both constitutional expressions of religious freedom while upholding the civil rights of all image-bearers, check out this series of articles in The Public Justice Review.
APJ supports policies that honor the institution of the family and the dignity of work, supporting reforms that strengthen state and federal paid family leave programs while protecting the role of small businesses and non-profit institutions, including faith-based organizations, in the fabric of our economy. We advocate for reforms that not only support parents of newborns or newly-adopted children, but also families caring for vulnerable family members who are sick or elderly. APJ supports proposed state legislation such as the bipartisan Family Care Act in Pennsylvania and other creative mechanisms for supporting families such as the bipartisan child tax credit proposal offered by U.S. Senators Michael Bennett (D-CO) and Mitt Romney (R-UT). For more information and helpful advocacy resources, check out the Center for Public Justice Families Valued initiative.
Criminal Justice Reform
Government has a responsibility to protect the welfare of its citizens and hold those who commit crimes accountable for their actions while also affirming the God-given dignity of both offenders and victims alike. APJ advocates for reforms at the local, state and federal level that reduce inequities in the criminal justice system and encourage a more restorative approach to justice.
APJ supports full implementation of the bipartisan First Step Act, which became law in 2018. APJ also advocates for: efforts to provide dignified pathways for re-entry for those who have served their sentences (such as lifting the ban on Pell grants for incarcerated individuals), proposals that would reduce violence and other assaults on human dignity that are rampant in our current system (such as closing youth prisons), and policies that will reduce historic inequities in the criminal justice system (such as restructuring the cash bail system).
Ending Predatory Payday Lending
When small, short-term loans are extended to vulnerable individuals at exorbitant interest rates, borrowers are often trapped in an endless cycle of debt. This practice of predatory payday lending violates fundamental biblical principles of human dignity and biblical prohibitions on usury. Broad coalitions of Christians are working at the state and federal level to protect the poor from exploitation through predatory lending. APJ advocates for laws such as the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act (S. 2833 and and H.R. 5050) which cap the interest rate lenders are allowed to charge borrowers at 36% APR or lower. This bill has been introduced in the U.S House and Senate. APJ also supports federal regulations that empower the government to investigate and end predatory lending practices.