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About the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy
The Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy is a faith-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000, providing theologically grounded public policy analysis to people of faith and other Texans. The Center is the research and education partner of Texas Impact, a 501(c)(4) interfaith legislative advocacy network.
While much has been made of “the Religious Right” and “the Religious Left” in the media and the political dialogue over the past two decades, most faith communities object to attempts to characterize their beliefs according to a secular partisan continuum. Instead, faith communities are called to provide alternatives to the prevailing political model of “win-lose” by establishing grounds for all parties to pursue a common good.
The Center aims to fill an important niche in the public policy landscape by offering an “Other Way.” Faith communities are ideally and uniquely positioned to provide this counter-narrative, which synthesizes conflicting secular policy analyses and at the same time rejects all secular policy paradigms as insufficient.
The Center is based in Austin, Texas. It is governed by a 12-member board that includes clergy and lay leaders from diverse faith traditions and areas of the state, some of whom are also members of the Board of Texas Impact, and managed by an Executive Director and an eight-member staff.
To help people of faith participate faithfully and effectively in public policy discussions concerning issues of broad religious social concern, through non-partisan education on policy issues and training in civic participation.
• Theological grounding
• Rigorous policy analysis
• Discipline and Accountability
What is Texas Impact?
Texas Impact is a statewide religious grassroots network whose members include individuals, congregations, and governing bodies of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. Texas Impact exists to advance state public policies that are consistent with universally held social principles of the Abrahamic traditions.
Texas Impact accomplishes its mission by developing grassroots networks in local communities and mobilizing them to advocate with their legislators on specific issues. Developing these networks includes a process of broad policy and advocacy education in congregations and denominational bodies; teambuilding in local faith communities; leadership development with key individuals and groups; and coordination with lawmakers, media, and other public interest groups.
Texas Impact was founded on the central religious conviction that religious communities are called to minister to the whole person—to respond with compassion to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of all people. The Texas religious leaders who established Texas Impact in 1973 believed that such a ministry cannot be performed adequately without a concern for basic social problems at the state government level.
Texas Impact's board consists of a delegation made up of up to two representatives from each Member Organization as well as several at-large and special members. There are currently about 50 members of the board.
Member Organizations make annual pledges to Texas Impact and send members to Texas Impact's board. Member Organizations include:
• Judicatories (regional governing bodies) of mainline Christian denominations in Texas such as United Methodist annual conferences
• Regional chapters of social justice groups affiliated with specific religious traditions such as the American Jewish Congress
• Regional and local single-faith and interfaith groups such as Interfaith Action of Central Texas
• Statewide units of religious women's groups such as Church Women United
The board sets Texas Impact's legislative agenda, approves policy positions, and maintains contact between Texas Impact and the Member Organizations. The executive committee oversees day-to-day operations, and there are other standing and ad hoc committees to address issues and projects as they arise. The full board meets three times a year, and committees meet as needed in person or via conference call.
Board members may be ordained or lay people, and come from religious communities throughout Texas.
How We Work on Issues
Texas Impact works on a wide variety of public policy issues within the broadly held social concerns of mainstream religious traditions.
More information on religious social concerns, social teachings and principles of faith traditions, and resources for denomination-specific information is available in the "Social Teachings" area of this website.
Texas Impact uses a process of discernment on public policy issues similar to the processes used by many faith traditions, using Scripture, the wisdom of the faith traditions, current public policy information and data, and the experiential knowledge of people of faith to develop our positions and policy goals. Texas Impact works collaboratively with religious and secular groups.
Texas Impact strives to make information about state government and public policy accessible to people of faith and all interested Texans. Texas' excellent state government website should be the first stop for anyone looking for information about specific programs, the state budget, or any other public policy concern.
Texas Impact operates under a biennial legislative agenda adopted by the Texas Impact board of directors in Septembers of even-numbered years.
In addition to the biennial legislative agenda, Texas Impact holds historic positions on several issues.
Texas Impact's History
Texas Impact was established in 1973, in the wake of a major corruption scandal that shook Texas state government to its core. To Texas religious leaders, the scandal was proof that Texas officials were more concerned with their own welfare than with the welfare of the people of Texas, especially of the disadvantaged.
The bishops, ministers, and lay leaders who established Texas Impact wrote that it was "increasingly clear" that the prophetic call to "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God" could not be accomplished without attempting to influence public policy. Accordingly, they set Texas Impact up as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit for the purpose of lobbying the Texas Legislature. Texas Impact's original name was the Texas Interfaith Commission on Human Priorities. The name was changed to Texas IMPACT in 1976 when the organization became part of Interfaith IMPACT, a national group with a similar mission working at the national level.
Texas IMPACT was one of many state IMPACT organizations; while the national umbrella has ceased to exist, most of the state organizations continue to work for social justice in their state governments. In some states there is a stand-alone Impact organization. In other states, the council of churches fulfills the public policy advocacy function.