Faith-Based Coalition Wins In Energy Bill

By Jacqueline L. Salmon After a spirited (pun intended) lobbying effort, a group of faith-based organizations has persuaded House movers … Continued

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

After a spirited (pun intended) lobbying effort, a group of faith-based organizations has persuaded House movers and shakers to include religious organizations in the energy bill that passed on Friday.

At the last minute, at the behest of a coalition led by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, House leaders inserted a provision in the bill that would provide subsidies of up to one-half the cost of retrofitting energy systems of faith-based and other nonprofits. It’s a testament to the lobbying clout of faith-based groups–although how far that influence will extend into other issues looming in Congress is an open question (more on that later).

On the energy bill, Nathan Diament,director of public policy for the Orthodox Union, said today that his group noticed back in March, when House Democrats first unveiled the bill, that it didn’t include anything for nonprofits. His group met with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman and subcommittee chairman Edward J. Markey – “both of whom were receptive to our perspective” that nonprofit groups should be included.

It put together an influential coalition, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches, United Jewish Communities, as well as the Rev. Joel Hunter of megachurch Northand, Jim Ball of the Evangelical Environmental Network and Jim Wallis of Sojourners.

By the time the committee marked up the bill, Waxman had inserted language making nonprofits, including faith-based, eligible under the retrofit subsidy program.

Victory there. Now onto the Senate. The bill in the works there doesn’t have an analogous provision. The coalition is working on increasing the subsidy beyond 50 percent since, Diament points out, many nonprofits wouldn’t be able to afford pricey energy retrofits even with a 50 percent subsidy.

Now, onto other issues. Health care reform, in which faith-based groups are deeply involved. Several hundred have formed large coalitions to push for universal health-care coverage. They’re paying for ad campaigns, organizing pastors’ sermons, launching lobbying campaigns, holding candle-light vigils, arguing that ensuring that all should be covered by health insurance is a moral and theological imperative.

Will they be successful on that front? Of course, that’s impossible to predict right now. But they’re hunting bigger game this time around. The retrofit subsidy is very narrow and affects a particularly slice of civil society. This goal is far more sweeping–and more prone to failure.

Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.