CA Religious Organizing: God is my Navigator
June 25, 2009
Ed. note: Special Projects Manager Ché Ruddell-Tabisola brings us another in a series about our work with California Faith for Equality, an organization that educates and mobilizes religious communities. The partnership joins Faith for Equality with HRC’s Religion and Faith Program and National Field Department to broaden and diversify religious support for marriage equality in the Golden State. Anyone who has taken a Psych 101 class has heard about “navigators,” the 10 percent of the population who influence what the other 90 percent does, buys, or believes. My husband Tadd is a navigator. He lined up to buy the iPhone the day it was released and promptly raved about the device to everyone. Soon Tadd’s sister, brother-in-law, mother and uncle all became iPhone enthusiasts. But my husband did more than just introduce them to then-$500 cell phones: Each family member closely consulted Tadd in his or her purchase. His sister even called him from the iStore to ask how much internal storage she needed. Marketers and campaigns alike covet navigators like my husband, because no amount of clever advertising or pop culture status could influence our family as he could. Another kind of navigator is religious leaders. Our priests, pastors, rabbis, and other faith leaders carry deep moral and spiritual authority, and in the campaign to repeal Proposition 8 empowering these supporters of marriage equality is fundamental to success. Faith leaders hold a powerful combination: They are both moral authority for many Americans and command a captive audience every week. The Bush 2004 presidential campaign is famous for its level of engagement with conservative religious leaders, which included regular campaign conference calls. And make no mistake, Californians are a religious bunch. Nearly half believe religion is very important, and one-third attends church at least once a week. The Golden State is home to the most Roman Catholics in the United States and the largest Mormon population outside Utah. California is home to an enormously diverse religious community, many of whom support marriage equality as a principle of their faith. Amplifying the voices of clergy who advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is a critical piece of the work of HRC and California Faith for Equality. Because we know no matter how well researched our message is or how famous our spokesmen and women, nothing compares to the persuasiveness of someone a voter knows, trusts, and sees behind a pulpit once a week.