A CALL TO BE ANTI-RACIST AND FOR RESPONSIBLE AND SAFE GUN LAWS
To All Iowa United Methodists,
We are called by the General Conference of the United Methodist Church to be an antiracist church! In a CHARTER FOR RACIAL JUSTICE IN AN INTERDEPENDENT GLOBAL COMMUNITY, Resolution 3371 in the 2016 Book of Resolutions, page 348, we affirm “Racism is a system or inequality based on race prejudice and the belief that one race is innately superior to all other races. In the United States, systemic race-based prejudice and misuse of power have justified the conquest, enslavement, and evangelization of non-Europeans...The concepts of race and racism were created explicitly to ensure the subjugation of peoples the Europeans believed to be inferior."
In RACISM AND ECONOMIC INJUSTICE AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THE US, Resolution 3378 in the Book of Resolutions, page 364, states, "Be it resolved...That The United Methodist Church advocates, encourages, and will support a new multiracial, mass movement for racial and economic justice in the US; and that every annual conference, district, and local church should be engaged intentionally, in being an anti-racist church, not merely on paper, but in action. Church bodies at every level should seek to educate themselves on the extent of racism in business, education, government, housing, and healthcare."
In 2021, we lamented that legislation we considered to be racist was introduced and passed. We urge you to prayerfully consider the legislation enacted and now Iowa law, then take antiracist action by voicing your opposition and concern to your legislators.
Elimination of Diversity Plans
This law targeted five school districts who had Diversity Plans in order to ensure that the schools in their districts would have a proper mix of students to accomplish the best education (Des Moines, Quad Cities, Waterloo, Postville, and West Liberty.) This law eliminated diversity plans as a reason to limit open enrollment. The result would be white and higher income students leaving the district by open enrollment, and students of color and lower income students grouped into segregated and lower funded schools.
Governor’s Bill Regarding Public Safety and Law Enforcement
In the summer of 2020, leaders of the Iowa Legislature (both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party), Governor Kim Reynolds, and members of the House Legislative Black Caucus met together for discussions on what would be a responsible response to the many Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd by Minnesota police.
Ideas were discussed with the aim of preventing conflict between law enforcement and the public. They agreed on a “Plan for a More Perfect Union” including three “common sense” proposals: (1) banning police chokeholds, (2) making it illegal to rehire police fired for misconduct, and (3) allowing the Iowa Attorney General to investigate police misconduct.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said, “It's going to be important…that we have meaningful and thoughtful conversation, that we continue to look at what we have done, but where do the gaps continue to exist?”
She created a committee to study the needs and create legislation for the 2021 session. The Focus Committee on Criminal Justice Reform led by Lt. Governor Gregg met throughout the summer and fall. One of key recommendations supported by the Iowa Legislative Black Caucus was to pass racial profiling legislation and related data collection.
It would set up procedures to eliminate Racial Profiling, including a community advisory board, and data collection procedures. This recommendation was not advanced in the 2021 session of the State Legislature. We had declared FOR this recommendation because this needs serious discussion and consideration. The United Methodist Church has a strong statement in opposition to racial profiling and for addressing racial profiling.
Individuals of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a problem. A report by the US Department of Justice found that Blacks and Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with police. (American Prospect, March 17, 2012) Resolution 3376, White Privilege. Book of Resolutions, 3376, page 358.
Resolution 3377 “Opposition to Racial Profiling in the U.S.” calls on annual conferences, and members of local churches to contact their local, state, and federal representatives urging that they prioritize and enact sufficient funds for its vigorous enforcement so as to ensure retraining of law enforcement officials on how to discontinue and prevent the use of racial profiling and ensure law enforcement agencies are held accountable for use of racial profiling.
ACTION RECOMMENDATION: Contact your Senator and representative about the Racial Profiling recommendation urging that it be passed by the respective House and Senate Committees and debated in the House and Senate in 2022. (There is no bill number yet.)
You may also contact us for further information on this or any other legislation.
Brian Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-979-5775 Rita Carter, email@example.com, 515-979-0506
Suggestion Action on the three Senate Files we have declared on:
- Senate File 2039 - Against
- Senate File 2040 - Against
- Senate File 2068 - For
Contact you senator and share your thoughts.
- SENATE FILE 2037 - RACE SCAPEGOATING - An Act prohibiting administrators from permitting the teaching of certain specified concepts in school district. (Monitoring)
- SENATE FILE 2039 - SCHOOL RACIAL EVENTS - An Act requiring the board of directors of a school district and the authorities in charge of each accredited nonpublic school to adopt a policy prohibiting certain school-sponsored activities related to race. AGAINST
- SENATE FILE 2040 - CHARTER SCHOOL DATA - An Act prohibiting the collection of certain specified information from students enrolled in school districts or charter schools. NEW SECTION 279.76 Information related to a student’s race, color, creed, or place of national origin. The board of directors of a school district shall not administer to a student any test, assessment, or other means of evaluation, or any related form, that collects from the student information related to the student’s race, color, creed, or place of national origin unless required by federal law, including the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. AGAINST
- SENATE FILE 2068 - ENGLISH AS IOWA OFFICIAL LANGUAGE AMENDMENT - Binding individuals of differing backgrounds together has been the English language and any other language deemed necessary to achieve the purposes of the state of Iowa and the political subdivisions of the state. FOR
- SF 2002 - SECOND AMENDMENT PROTECTIONS (Nunn) (Judiciary) - Establishes the Second Amendment Preservation Act that, “Prohibits the enforcement of federal gun safety laws and regulations. Law enforcement and local governments could face penalties of up to $50,000 for enforcing certain federal regulations on firearms.” AGAINST
The bill, Senate File 2002, would add a lengthy section to Iowa Code that asserts only state Legislature – not the federal government – has the authority to regulate firearms. Opponents to the proposal raised concerns that law enforcement officers would be less able to enforce gun laws for fear of legal retribution. Traci Kennedy, Iowa chapter leader of gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action, said the bill did not provide enough clarity on which federal actions might count as an infringement on the Second Amendment.
Taylor McDonald, a lobbyist for gun safety group Giffords, responded that the current system already works as it should, with the judicial branch deciding whether federal actions were unconstitutional.
Rita Carter, our Legislative advocate focusing on gun safety laws, spoke against the bill citing major focus promoted by the United Methodist Church in the UMC resolution #3428, "Our Call to End Gun Violence."
- This bill, Senate File 2002, would ignore several gun safety measures such as
- Universal background checks on all gun purchases;
- Ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers;
- Prohibiting persons convicted of violent crimes, or under restraining order due to threat of violence, or persons with serious mental illness who pose a danger to themselves or others – from purchasing a gun;
- Banning weapons designed to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled.
Rev. Wendy Abrahamson spoke on behalf of the Episcopal Church against the bill also, so there were several faith perspective voices plus those noted in the article. We will be watching the Senate Judiciary for further action on this, and we urge contacts of Senate Judiciary members.
ADVOCACY ABC’s – BEST PRACTICES
As United Methodists we have along history of concern for social justice, and "members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles"1 including opposition to the slave trade, to smuggling, to the cruel treatment of prisoners in the early days of Methodism. We continue this legacy today as "we renew our commitment to become faithful witnesses to the gospel, not alone to the ends of earth, but also to the depths of our common life and work."2
Thank you for your efforts in advocating/lobbying to influence public and government policy!
1 Social Principles of The United Methodist Church, Preface '
2 Social Principles, Preamble
ABC’s and Protocols adapted from UUSC ABCDs of Lobbying and from Advocacy Tips from Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, Inc.
- Before you make contact with a legislator, take some time to think about why you care about the issue.
- Speak from your own experiences and use them to enhance an issue.
- If you are asked a question, answer to the best of your ability. You don’t need to be an expert, and it’s okay to say “I don’t know. Let me find out.” Or “Good question Senator /Representative; I’ll find out and get back to you.”
- Find out the best way to reach them and be sure to follow through. Try to use the most recent information possible.
- Be sure to identify yourself as a constituent (if you live in the district) and United Methodist!
- Make your message interesting and compelling, simple and straightforward (no soapboxes/preaching). Sharing a personal story is effective.
- If you are in person and with a group, decide on the main message and request; and be sure everyone who wants to speak has a chance to share.
- Remember to make a specific “ask” with a direct question, such as “Can we count on you to support (Bill Subject or Number)?”
- Be sure to LISTEN as well as talk. Confrontation is not advocacy—remain respectful at all times or else walk away.
- Silence electronic devices!
- Be patient and flexible. Remember that legislators are regular people, too, so relax and speak honestly!
- Be sure to thank them for their time and attention—and remember to continue to build a relationship with them through contacts in the future.
- Report meeting results to the Advocacy Team leader (Brian Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Don’t be discouraged if the response from the legislator was not what you wanted. It’s just part of the political process.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN MAKING IOWA LAWS
The state Senator and state Representative from each district are elected to represent constituent interests when making the laws of Iowa. Citizens can take part in the decisions made by those elected officials.
- Search the web using Find Your Legislator on the Iowa General Assembly website or email email@example.com. The Legislative Information Office (LIO) mailing address is Room G16 Legislative Services Agency, 1007 East Grand Avenue, Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319; Telephone: 515.281.5129]
- During the legislative session, both the Senate and House have operators on duty to take phone calls and relay messages to legislators.
- Contact Senators during the legislative session at the Capitol by calling the Senate Switchboard at 515.281.3371, or address mail to the Senator _____, Iowa Senate, 1007 East Grand Avenue, State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319.
- Contact Representatives during the session at the Capitol by calling the House Switchboard at 515.281.3221, or address mail to the Representative ______, Iowa House of Representatives, 1007 East Grand Avenue, State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319.
- The Iowa General Assembly website (www.legis.iowa.gov) lists email addresses of all legislators, or call the LIO. Each legislator may be emailed using this format, "firstname.lastname@example.org."
- Legislators may also be contacted at their homes (call the LIO or check listings on the Iowa General Assembly website).
- Observe the session at the Capitol. The debates may be viewed from galleries in the Senate and House chambers. The public may attend committee meetings and public hearings on legislation. Live audio of the Senate and House debates is available on the Iowa General Assembly website.
- Any citizen visiting the Capitol can arrange to meet with legislators.
PROTOCOLS FOR ADVOCACY AT THE IOWA CAPITOL
- Legislators can be called out of the chamber to talk to you unless they are in a committee meeting or in a party caucus. There is a desk at the entrance area of each chamber that has pads of paper and pencils (each chamber has its own color). You will need to fill in the time, date, legislator’s name and desk number (posted at the desk), your name (and possibly phone number). BE SURE TO NOTE IF YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT ON THE SLIP!
- Do NOT walk up to an ongoing conversation between a legislator and another person. They may see you and invite you into the conversation. If not, remain at a respectful distance and try to catch the legislator’s eye and signal (raise your hand, etc.) that you would like to talk when available.
- Schedules for Committee and Subcommittee meetings are noted on the website or posted in various places at the Capitol, such as near a ground floor elevator. You may attend Committee meetings, but members of the public cannot speak unless specifically invited. Subcommittees are usually short meetings comprised of a few members of the Committee at which lobbyists and members of the public are allowed to speak in turn as recognized by the meeting chair.
- Remember these things: Legislators have a thankless job—no matter what, someone is always unhappy with the decision. It is a low-paying, full-time job (even though it’s considered part-time). Never intentionally lie to a legislator. Keep the focus of your discussion on the key position and how the United Methodist Church stands on it. If you have a handout, give it to them AFTER speaking with them.
[Information from the Legislative Information Office and Iowa Conference Legislative Advocacy Team Consultants.]
Brian Carter - email@example.com
Rita Carter - firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Nims - email@example.com
Robert Mulqueen - firstname.lastname@example.org
Deb Streff - email@example.com