The NJ Prophetic Agenda
Many sacred texts teach that we are all created in the divine image. As people of faith and residents of New Jersey, guided by morals and a belief in justice for all, we affirm that each person is a unique and holy being on this planet. The NJ Prophetic Agenda is a visionary, moral document that seeks to build beloved community in our home state. Beloved community is an aspiration in which people of all faiths, beliefs, cultures, and races embrace the ideals of our democracy and commit their lives to building a shared destiny. We move forward toward this beloved community, which is integral to the soul of democracy.
We are faith leaders, people of faith, and people who have been called by the spirit of justice to raise up a Prophetic Agenda that will resist injustice within our state, as well as guide us onward with prophetic vision for a just New Jersey.
The pursuit of justice is essential in both society and religion. “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deut. 16:18). This passage translated in Hebrew is “Tzedek tzedek tirdof.” The repeated word -- tzedek, justice -- emphasizes that this is something which is not only urgent, but must be actively pursued (tirdof). Justice will not happen without the commitment and communication of interconnected beings working together to move from the world as it is to the world as it should be.
Sacred texts have been coerced to develop state and religious theologies. It is recognized that theology has often been used to support the imperial ambitions of governments; to fuel racism, bigotry, and hatred of institutions; and to maintain the autocratic nature of the status quo.
It is with this recognition that we move within a prophetic theology, gleaned from God's consistent and outstretched hand, towards the oppressed, regardless of their religious tradition.
NJ Prophetic Agenda aims to cultivate beloved community for all who live in the Garden State. Prophetic vision and passion for beloved community dares us to imagine a New Jersey where our children can go to school together and receive a high-quality education regardless of their zip code. It is bold enough to invest in communities devastated by the war on drugs. It imagines a New Jersey where law enforcement, including police, are empowered and accountable to the community. It is so redemptive that it closes youth prisons and educates, rehabilitates, and deals compassionately with troubled teens instead of incarcerating them. It is a community where the water is safe to drink, the air is safe to breath, and exposure to pollution isn’t determined by class or race. It seeks to not only have safety net programs for the poor, but programs that lift people out of poverty. A beloved community is where every resident has access to quality healthcare, treatment for mental health conditions, and support for maintaining wellness. It is a community where drug addiction and violence in urban communities are treated as a public health crisis, not a crime problem. Beloved community affirms love and rejects hate and discrimination. It embraces immigrants and shelters refugees. It envisions a society built on love, justice, peace, and community.
If we are to believe in beloved community, we must believe in the redemption of those who could be considered our enemies. We sign our names to this prophetic agenda with the conviction that hardened hearts, impassioned for wickedness, can be turned around by a righteous vision for a just New Jersey and by those willing to be relentless in the pursuit of justice. We affirm that we must practice beloved community now as people of faith by actively being anti-racist in our movement and by interweaving our multiculturalism and diverse religious traditions. We commit to unwavering resolve in support of our LGBTQ siblings and to solidarity with all residents of New Jersey, including both those who have the privilege of citizenship and those who do not. We move with the inclusion of all who are differently abled and affirm the wisdom of Rev. Leslie Takahashi that the “margins hold the center.”
The Prophetic Agenda is an embodied prophecy. It includes faith leaders, historians, policy and social justice advocates, theologians, lawyers, practitioners, impacted persons, people of faith, and people of no formal faith who commit to resisting current injustices and setting forth a prophetic agenda. We are unapologetically non-partisan and ready to work with partners who will move toward beloved community. The Prophetic Agenda sets forth a divine vision for restorative justice, educational equity, healthcare as a human right, economic development in underserved communities, unencumbered civil and human rights, a clean environment, and affordable housing.