Christian political advocacy is a powerful opportunity to engage decision makers from a faith-based perspective and to show love for our neighbor in a tangible way. There are many methods available for advocacy, including letter writing, congressional visits, letters to the editor, and social media.
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Tips for meeting with your members of Congress
Visiting a legislator's office, either locally or in Washington, D.C., is the most effective way for a citizen to do advocacy. Congressional recesses are an excellent time to meet locally with your legislator (click here for the recess schedule for the House and the Senate).
- Schedule ahead, preferably at least two weeks in advance, specifying the issue you wish to discuss. Mention a preferred date and length of meeting as well as the number of people coming.
- Choose a specific issue to discuss and assign roles if you are visiting as a group.
- Prepare for the visit by researching information on your legislator’s co-sponsorship of bills and previous votes. The Washington Office is happy to help with this.
- Leave materials. It is useful to bring supporting materials or position papers to leave with the person you meet.
- Write a follow up letter thanking the legislator or staff member for the meeting. Reiterate your position.
- Let the MCC Washington Office know how it went!
Tips for writing letters and emails
Letters and emails are an excellent means to educate and persuade your member of Congress. Typed or neatly handwritten letters on personal stationery denote sincere, grassroots interest and generally receive more attention than form letters, postcards, or petitions. Emails are good ways to ensure timely delivery of your views while providing a written record of your communication.
- Keep it short and focus on one subject. Discussing current legislation receives more attention than general observations.
- State your purpose and be clear what action you are asking the congressperson to take.
- Identify the bill or issue. It is helpful to summarize and include the bill number or legislation title when referring to a specific piece of legislation.
- Personalize your message. MCC often provides sample letters. Personalize them and use them to guide your own letter instead of copying them word-for-word. Be sure to identify yourself as a constituent and include personal stories and connections to your district.
- Say “well done”. Be sure to thank your congressperson when they vote the right way or take a courageous stand.
Tips for writing letters to the editor
Letters to the editor provide the opportunity to communicate your concerns to many other people as well as to members of Congress. Members of Congress read the newspaper(s) from their district in order to learn about the issues that are of concern to their constituents.
- Write in response to a specific article or opinion that ran recently in the paper and include the title of that original piece in the first sentence.
- Respond quickly (the same day as the original story appeared if possible).
- Keep it short and focused. Limit your response to 100-200 words and focus on a specific issue or recommendation.
- Make a local connection by highlighting impact of the policy issue on your district.
- Include your name, address and phone number.
Click here to see an example of a letter to the editor.
Tips for using social media for advocacy
Use Social Media accounts to talk to your Members of Congress. Let them act as educational and motivational tools to change the way Congress makes policy in relation to the issues you're concerned about.
- Become friends with your congressperson and contribute comments or start a conversation with your Member.
- Like and suggest your friends 'like' a page or post.
- Follow the Washington Memo blog. Comment and start a conversation.
- Share! on your Social Media accounts like your own blog, Facebook or twitter accounts.
- Use twitter to share what you're doing with your members of Congress by sending them a Direct Tweet or mentioning them in your tweet.
- Retweet and modify tweets. Use tagdef.com to look up a specific hashtag for topics you're tweeting on.
With all social media- share it far and wide! If it's something you find interesting, blog about it yourself, post it to your wall, tweet it or post it to your congressperson's sites when relevant. Let your Members of Congress know what you are reading and tell them why you find it helpful.