Faith-Rooted Organizing, by Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Heltzel

Faith Rooted Organizing resizedFaith-rooted organizing is a different way of doing social justice. It challenges us to think again about our advocacy techniques.

The standard model is fact-based, rational and appealing to the self-interest of people. The authors admire the United States’s Saul Alinsky (1909-72), who is often seen as the pioneer of that form of community organising. Barak Obama was one of his most famous devotees.

However, people who come together to look after their own self-interest may be effective, but they may not continue the struggle after they have won their round. The authors want to go beyond Alinsky.

Justice is morality in its material form, lived out within the life of the community. There is the biblical command to look after one’s neighbour and not just oneself.

Faith-based organizing, therefore, puts the Gospel at the centre. It is God’s interest rather than self-interest. The way we organise is as important as whether the objectives are eventually achieved.

Alinksy talked of looking for “winnable victories”. Faith–based organizing is about taking a longer view. It is not so much about winning or losing as in making sure we are in the right fight.

The only time you lose is when you quit.

Keith Suter

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