Assessing the Dimensions of Faith-Based Activism, Structural Vulnerability, and the Failed Comprehensive Immigration Reform of 2013
By: Ryan I. Logan, PhD, MPH
My article entitled “La Fe en Acción: Faith-Based Activism, Immigration Reform, and Structural Vulnerability” explores how the leadership of a grassroots, social justice organization in Indianapolis called the Campaign for Citizenship Indiana (CCI, a pseudonym) organized its members around shared religious faith as a launching point for garnering support for the comprehensive immigration reform proposed in 2013. Specifically, the organizers drew on a strategy they called “la fe en acción” (faith in action) to unite the varied demographics of the membership (which included Latinx, Black, Asian, Indigenous, White, and immigrants) in addition to serving as a shared, religious foundation through which its members and organizers engaged with politicians and other stakeholders.
Through la fe en acción, activism was conceptualized by organizers as a long-term strategy that united various stakeholders via shared religious faith as a means to foment political change. Religion was integrated throughout all aspects of various events, including: prayer vigils (which ranged from small to large public demonstrations, with at least two garnering hundreds of attendees), the sharing of testimonios (testimonials) with politicians and at events, and infusing social justice readings of the Bible to provide a common ground between the communities of Indianapolis/Indiana, members of CCI, business leaders, politicians (both Republican and Democrat), and other stakeholders.
While this form of activism was intended to engender the involvement of all supporters, structural vulnerability hindered the ability of some to participate in the various events arranged by the organizers. In this article, I explicate the various strategies utilized by the leadership of this organization, the various opinions of CCI’s participants, and the positive and negative aspects of this form of grassroots organizing.
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