Wisconsin Faith Leaders Shed Stereotypes in Calling for Pandemic Relief

May 22, 2020

Credit Pixabay.com Gadini

MADISON, Wis. -- Religious activism often is associated with divisive topics such as abortion, but some church leaders in Wisconsin are calling on Congress to take more action for those affected by the pandemic.

Some of the stimulus money set aside by federal lawmakers has gone to churches impacted by the economic downturn. Yet in Wisconsin, there's been a push by some faith leaders for Congress to ensure that any more stimulus funding not necessarily go to churches, but for people still struggling to get by.

Rev. Kerri Parker, director of Wisconsin Council of Churches, says it's not about stoking political tension, but rather seeking institutional change. "It's not quite as visible as these major efforts that you see in other places, but nevertheless, we're there all the time trying to work for change that will benefit the most vulnerable people among us," she states. The group Parker leads includes more than 30 member churches from various denominations across the state. The Council says Congress should authorize more stimulus funding that can help state governments avoid steep budget cuts, while helping vulnerable residents deal with key expenses.

Adam Clausen is senior leader at Life Center church in Madison, which has seen various transformations over the years. Clausen says while his church doesn't adhere to a specific denomination, there's still an evangelical element to the faith that members practice. He says any activism that might come from the church is vastly different than what's portrayed in today's culture. "We specifically have tried to raise our voices for things [that] our specific tradition of evangelical tradition has not necessarily spoken up about," he explains. Clausen says his church supports the Council's position on stimulus funding, and would like to see assistance for people dealing with housing insecurity.

Parker says she sees room for more diverse voices in religious activism who don't stick to talking points on the left or the right. "The reality is we're all over the spectrum," she states. "All of us. And there's a great deal of diversity among our members. And what we share in common is our faith and our baptism -- and the scripture that calls us to work for certain things."