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As Christians who use social networks, maintain websites or blogs, or other online activities to serve God and others, I think we all agree on some matters. We agree that we are to do all things, offline or online, to glorify our great and awesome God. We agree that we have been called to love and serve others as He has loved us first. We desire to share Christ’s love and to let what whatever we do be the outflow of our relationship with Him. Yet, whether you mean between individuals or Christian denominations, we’re divided about how to go about some of this. Take the matter of public advocacy. Why should we Christians get involved in that? Should we?
What Is Public Advocacy?
Public advocacy is using any means, offline or online, to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. There are numerous forms of advocacy, including disability rights, autism awareness, crime victim advocacy, missing persons advocacy, child advocacy, sanctity of life advocacy, just to name a few. Advocacy takes many forms, from posting and sharing online posts, photos and links to bring awareness to a cause, to setting up blogs or websites, creating, sharing and signing petitions, to appearing before Congress to change laws. Many in the Church, over the decades, have advocated for unborn children and still do. This is commendable and should continue as long as abortion-on-demand remains the law of the land. But so many other forms of advocacy have been virtually totally overlooked by the Church, and left to those outside the Church. Before I begin, I know that many Christians, such as parents raising young children, single parents, among others, live lifestyles where any public advocacy is not feasible. Many of us Christians are not called to public advocacy, but many of us are.
My Own Experience
In my own experience in a former local Church, I received insight into why so many in the Church are confused about the public advocacy. A year ago, I had emailed my Pastor to examine my autism petition and to consider having our local Church support it and seek signatures from Members. He soon responded, saying that it has been written into the official Church body laws of the said denomination, for Churches to get involved in any public advocacy. I was surprised at this official Church ruling, but from my observation of so many I have attended worship services with, this should have come as no surprise. When I responded and asked him to sign as a private citizen, I found, later, that he had added his name to my autism petition, which I link to at the end of this article. My Pastor was clear about Christians and public advocacy, but many are confused, feel that they shouldn’t get involved, or may be unaware or apathetic.
Why the Confusion About Public Advocacy?
My online experience tells me that many believers are confused or even apathetic when it comes to any form of public advocacy, with the possible exception of the sanctity of life. Three and a half years ago, I set up a Facebook account to help bring awareness to cases of missing persons and crime victims. Later, I added a number of people from my local Church. Almost immediately, one person showed her displeasure at my frequent post, posting on my profile: “Lisa! Slow down your posts!” A pastor’s wide had hit “like” on that post. I found that I was quietly unfriended by many of these parish Members. I got the message: They apparently were confused or apathetic about public advocacy, thinking that Christians should or need not get involved in it at all. I became disillusioned, sad, and angry at the uninformed and even apathetic behavior of so many who could speak about God’s love for the world. But I’m convinced that it need not be that way.
So If We Want To Advocate, How Should We Go About It?
First of all, we always need to start and finish by keeping all we do in prayer. We need to never forget that in all we do, we are to glorify our Great God and serve others with what we have. We are to do the work of an Advocate with these truths in mind. We ought to stick with causes that we are passionate about and this will usually spring from our own life experiences. I stick with victims and missing persons because these can happen to anyone at any time, and with autism because of lifelong experience. We all have different life experiences and this is good! For we need advocates for various groups of people. Blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, petition sites, and many other online platforms offer numerous online opportunities.
How Can We Begin?
I have shared about my passion for autism and about my petition. It calls on the US President and both Houses of US Congress, to send funds to all 50 states so that autism services will be available to all who want or need services to diagnose or deal with diagnosed autism. Autistic people are just one group in need of advocacy, but I just would like to give you an opportunity to advocate. We as Christians have been called to accept, welcome and meet the needs of all people, including those with autism. (If interested, you can sign my autism petition by visiting the URL link below). Thank you for your advocacy!
Depending on what church background you grew up in, what do you think of the Christian’s role in public advocacy?[image by morguefile]