The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan coalition of faith communities that works to create change through education and public policy. Its mission statement, adopted in March of 2003, is: “The VICPP speaks for and with the vulnerable and woks for a just and compassionate commonwealth by uniting and empowering faith communities.” It is a grassroots network of faith groups throughout the state that strives to bring together people of faith in Virginia , so their voices may be heard in the public arena, including the General Assembly.
The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy was started in 1982 by a group of faith leaders, including Rev. Jim Payne, Rev. Fletcher, and Rev. Davis Yeuell. These faith leaders saw a need for interfaith cooperation, and gained the support of the Virginia Council of Churches and a number of different denominations throughout Virginia for the project. The center has since moved beyond being purely Christian, and has networked and worked with various Jewish and Muslim organizations, including the Jewish Community Federation and the Virginia Muslim Association for Public Affairs.
The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is mainly an advocacy and public education organization, and the majority of its resources are directed toward those activities. It serves as the Lutheran Public Policy Office in Virginia , and it also holds numerous training and advocacy programs across the state each year. Two of these programs are “Social Justice U” and “A Day For All People of Faith.” Social Justice U educates people in the faith advocacy and trains them on specific, faith-related issues. The program, A Day For All People of Faith, invites Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy members and others interested to participate in advocacy at the General Assembly.
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy is unique in that it is the only Interfaith Advocacy group in Virginia that works solely on advocacy at the state level. Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy employs five separate programs to increase its influence: Public Policy, A More Perfect Union, Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, and Richmond Sunlight.
Public Policy is Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy’s longest standing program that focuses on advocacy at the state level. Also called the “Policy Wonk Network,” according to their website, it, “provides opportunities for Virginia citizens, particularly persons of faith, to participate in faithful democracy.” A “wonk” is defined by the website as “a person who studies excessively or a faithful Virginian seeking to be involved in the legislative process to promote justice and to aid the poor.”
A More Perfect Union is Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy’s anti-bias program. Also called “Rethink Bias,” the program seeks to “increase respect and understanding between religious and ethnic majorities and their Muslim, South Asian, and Arab counterparts in Virginia .” The program attempts to increase awareness in Virginia about bias and tolerance, increase acceptance and open hearts towards those facing bias, and educate the populace on the true nature of minorities and others who face bias.
The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis is Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy’s think tank, and it provides nonpartisan analyses of state fiscal and tax policies. It also focuses on the implication of these policies for all Virginians, but the institute particularly focuses on the impact these policies have on those of low and middle incomes. All of these analyses are available at their website as a means of encouraging civic involvement and engagement by citizens.
Virginia Interfaith Power and Light is an non-profit environmental program of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy focused on a sustainable and healthier environment by reducing global warming. It is a part of a national network of Interfaith Power and Light programs across the nation in sixteen different states. Its mission is to “reduce pollutants and help restore God’s creation.”
Lastly, the Richmond Sunlight is a website run and maintained by Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy that pulls together all the legislative and advocacy tracking tools onto one site. It is designed to provide all the information needed to inform and educate the public on lawmakers and legislation in Virginia ‘s General Assembly.
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy’s active membership is around 5,000 participants from across the state. Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy also partners with nearly fifty judicatory, advocacy, and political groups, as well as hundreds of religious congregations across the state.
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
P.O. Box 12516
Richmond , Virginia 23241
Interfaith Center website
Rethink Bias website
Policy Wonk Network website
Commonwealth Institute website
Virginia Interfaith Power and Light website
Richmond Sunlight website
Profile prepared by Jon Headlee