Category Archives: Spirit Filled Network

2022 Voting Record

2022 Congressional Voting Record

At the start of each new year, NETWORK staff compiles an assessment of Congress’s voting record. The 2022 Voting Record is our evaluation of Members of Congress based on the votes they cast to advance, or thwart, social justice policy and our Build Anew agenda. Take action for justice and deliver your Members of Congress’s 2022 Voting Record results in January or February 2023.

Webinar Recording & PDF
Let Congress know what you think about the 2022 Voting Record

Email Congress

We’ve got great news: 270 current Members of Congress scored 100% on the 2022 Voting Record! Can you act now to reach out to Members?

Legislators who scored 100% deserve praise, and it is vital that we hold those who received a less-than-perfect score accountable. And, as new Members begin their work on Capitol Hill, advocates must let them know about NETWORK’s Voting Record!

Will you send a quick email to let your Members of Congress know how you feel about their Voting Record? Don’t worry about what to say, we’ve prepared a message that you can edit. Click below!

Deliver the Record

NETWORK advocates (like you!) will deliver Voting Records to Members of Congress in January and February in-person, on Zoom, and by email. Thank you for helping to create the multi-faith, multiracial democracy we must build anew so that we can all thrive.

Note: NETWORK creates special Voting Record certificates of excellence for Members of Congress with a 100% Voting Record score. 

There are three ways to deliver the NETWORK 2022 Voting Record. Be sure to sign up for one of them. Click below!

Download the 2022 Voting Record

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Christian leaders gather across from the U.S. Capitol Building for a sunrise vigil marking the second anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Photo courtesy of Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Healing Our Politics

Healing Our Politics

We Can Build a Better World by Participating in the Systems That Shape Our Destiny

Joan Neal
Jan 11, 2023
Christian leaders gather across from the U.S. Capitol Building for a sunrise vigil marking the second anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Photo courtesy of Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Christian leaders gather across from the U.S. Capitol Building for a sunrise vigil marking the second anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Photo courtesy of Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

With the 2022 midterms behind us and a new Congress coming into session, it’s fitting for people of faith to survey the “Signs of the Times.” Where is God speaking to us and trying to lead us as a people as we enter a new year, with a new Congress, in one of the oldest democracies on earth? The answer that NETWORK has discerned in the face of an increasingly volatile political landscape is that we must work to heal our politics.

Our political life has suffered a wound, a laceration that has exposed us to further injury and infection. This wound is reflected in the divisions in our society today that allow hateful, dehumanizing rhetoric to become normalized, and violent, resentful action to become a part of everyday life. The Signs of the Times are clear: We are a divided country. Even the composition of the new Congress – with the narrowest of majorities in both houses – suggests a body politic that has been torn asunder.

This situation has been building for a long time. The fact is, we are witnessing the ugly final acts of a power struggle in the U.S. that began half a century ago as an effort to strip away the gains made toward equity and justice for anyone who is not white, male, and socioeconomically privileged.

This struggle has played out in every aspect of our politics and now, most concerning, in our judiciary. For the first time in our history, we are seeing recent rulings that take rights away from Americans instead of expanding them, rulings that seem wholly untethered from any sense of the common good and even reflect bias toward a particular political ideology. Sadly, we also see allegations of corrupt dealings between justices and right-wing groups. Even the objectivity of our judicial system seems caught up in this fight.

The repercussions of this power struggle have been as painful as they have been predictable: stratospheric economic inequality; the dismantling of the power of organized labor; the rise of Christian nationalism with its view that America is only for white Christians; increasing threats to our planet and our public health; rising homelessness, and so much more. These are signs that our politics and our society are in desperate need of healing and repair.

As we look back on 2022 and the legislation passed in the second session of the 117th Congress, we can imagine each bill as a tiny swatch of material trying to patch the frayed social fabric of our current reality. The field hospital imagery of Pope Francis is apt language as we try to bind societal wounds while also addressing their root causes.

This is where we see our mission. At our core, NETWORK is a political ministry, which calls us to respond first with empathy and then with truth-telling and concrete actions that lead to economic and racial justice.  We decry the divisions and seek to be a prophetic voice for peace, reparatory justice and reconciliation in order to reshape our politics and center the voices of those whose voices are not heard – those who are not privileged; those who lack the money and power to wield influence; and those who are most impacted by the evils of unfettered capitalism, white supremacy and extreme individualism in our politics and in our society.

At NETWORK, we have endeavored to do this by first listening to and seeking out other justice-seekers, such as the National Black Sisters’ Conference, to partner with us in raising an authentic witness for the common good. We have also sought to amplify the call for justice through our new podcast. “Just Politics,” a collaboration of NETWORK and U.S. Catholic magazine, launched in September 2022 and will have its season 2 premiere in February. We have used this new platform to center the voices of women religious, impacted communities, and other justice-seekers.

In his 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis argues for “a better kind of politics” and makes a key distinction between political movements that are populist – the forces that weaponized people’s anger for personal gain – and those that are truly reflective of “the people’s voice”. Our work seeks to put the Pope’s words into action, to insure that our politics includes the needs and voices of all people in order to build a more inclusive and equitable community. Through healing our politics, we can all play a part in shaping our common destiny and building a better country, a better society, a better world for everyone.

Joan F. Neal is NETWORK’s Deputy Executive Director and Chief Equity Officer.

This story was originally published in the 1st Quarter issue of Connection. Download the full issue here.

Take Action to End Child Poverty with the Child Tax Credit

Watch the #CTCNow press conference and share it with friends. Scroll for call-in and Tweet details to take action to end child poverty with the Child Tax Credit.

Child Poverty is a Policy Choice

2021’s expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) lifted a historic number of kids out of poverty. It is poor policy, and morally repugnant, to extend tax breaks for corporations without also enacting robust expansion of the CTC. Congress must pass a fully refundable, monthly Child Tax Credit before the New Year.

Call the Senate: 1-888-738-3058!

Submit the Tweet below.

Call Your Senators NOW: 888-738-3058! *Dial twice to reach both of your Senators* 
Tell them no tax breaks for corporations without including the Child Tax Credit.
When you call, here’s what you might say:

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] from [YOUR TOWN]. As your constituent and a member of NETWORK, I ask you to support the expansion of the Child Tax Credit in any end of the year tax package. This is urgent. Millions of children who were lifted out of poverty by the expanded credit are now living in poverty again. This is a moral outrage. Will the Senator support passing the expanded Child Tax Credit before the end of the year?

After you call, send a tweet, too! Use the form below to direct a tweet to Congress.

Resources to support you when you take action to end child poverty.

Talking Points
  • Last December, Congress allowed the expanded credit to expire, pushing nearly 4 million children back into poverty.
  • Census Bureau surveys found that 91 percent of low-income families—those with incomes below $35,000—used their monthly CTC payments to cover the cost of basic necessities such as food, housing, utilities, clothing, and education
  • Critics charge that the extended CTC is too generous. Some claim it reduces the incentive to work. They are wrong! Data conclusively shows that the CTC did not precipitate workforce reductions. Ironically, many parents who thrived in the workforce when the CTC was in place have left jobs since it expired.
  • The expanded CTC was an anti-poverty program AND a middle-class stabilization tool. Payments were a crucial financial lifeline to millions of families across the country; a wide range of families across income levels, racial and ethnic groups, and education levels received and benefited from these payments in 2021. Middle-income families, white families, and those without a college degree made up larger shares of recipients than low-income families, families of color, and those with a college degree.
Advocate’s CTC Testimonials

Many families with young children that I know, including my own, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the significant inflation that we are facing has caused many of us to deplete our savings and increasingly rely on credit cards to get us through the month. With interest rates as high as they currently are, this is digging us into a deeper financial hole. An expansion of the Child Tax Credit could help us avoid using credit at a time when financial experts advise us to do so.Natalie M., Shaker Heights, OH

“[The CTC] will allow my children the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and expose them to new experiences and friends, promoting the growth of their whole self.” Ivelisse C., Cleveland OH

“I have nieces in Ohio who are struggling to make ends meet to feed and clothe their children and also to afford daycare so they can get a job. The Child Tax Credit helped them before and it can help them again!” Sr. Joyce K., CPPS, Dayton, OH

“Several of my church families along with others in the community are struggling to make ends meet and to provide for their children. Some are looking at the loss of homes and eviction. The expanded Child Tax Credit will help to minimize theses effects of inflation and low paying work situations.” Rev. Karen B., Jeffersonville, IN

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Take More Action

Take Action for Justice in Drug Sentencing (The EQUAL Act)

It's time for cocaine sentencing policy justice

The 117th Congressional session ends this month. Legislation that we have lobbied for, the EQUAL Act (which would bring equity in crack and powder cocaine sentencing), has a chance to pass — if the Senate can be persuaded to take bold action before the end of the year. LEARN MORE.

Call the Senate NOW: 1-888-436-6478

Tell them to support the EQUAL Act by the end of the year.
When you call, here’s what you might say: 

“Hello, I am [YOUR NAME], a constituent of Senator [SENATOR’S NAME] from [YOUR TOWN]. As your constituent and a NETWORK Lobby advocate, I am calling to ask that you support including the EQUAL Act by the end of the year. The disparity in the lengths of sentences for crack and powder cocaine crimes has led to an immorally high mass incarceration rate in our country. And, the people that are most severely impacted are Black and Brown people. Families and communities have suffered long enough–now is the time for fair, equitable sentencing reform. Will the Senator support passing the EQUAL Act before the end of the year and affirm that every person is entitled to equal justice under law?”

ACT NOW for Other Policy Areas

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Advent 2022: Better Neighbors Set the Oppressed Free

NETWORK Lobby offers Advent reflections

Advent 2022: Better Neighbors Set The Oppressed Free

Min. Christian Watkins
December 5, 2022


In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims the words of the prophet Isaiah and in doing so, makes very clear why he’s been sent among us:

“…to proclaim liberty to captives and to set the oppressed free…”

During Advent, as we prepare to welcome him with the observance of Christmas, these words should challenge us still. If Jesus is sent to proclaim liberty to people in captivity and freedom for those oppressed, how can we claim that he is with us in the U.S. today?

In a culture that seeks to denigrate and ignore entire groups of people, including the elderly and the sick, the U.S. holds some especially dubious distinctions when it comes to incarcerated people. With over 2 million of our people in prisons, the U.S. is the most incarcerated country in the world – not only in raw numbers of people behind bars but also our incarceration rate (639 per 100,000 people, according to the World Prison Brief).

Is this really the land of the free?

It’s even worse when race is taken into account. Despite being only 12 percent of the adult population, Black people account for over a third of those incarcerated in the U.S. That number climbs to over half when Black and Latinx people are counted together. The horrible combination of overly punitive drug policy, excessive sentencing, and the use of for-profit prisons makes for, in many ways, a form of legal slavery. It’s so bad that reform of the U.S. criminal legal system actually enjoys some bipartisan support.

Emmanuel means “God with us,” so for us to gather near to Jesus this Christmas season, we should remember the “with us” that Jesus himself said he came to proclaim his Good News to. Jesus is our melaninated Savior from the southern part of Jerusalem who was unjustly imprisoned shortly before having his life snuffed out in a shameful, public, state-sponsored execution. However, as his followers comprise the Body of Christ still in the world today, we can cooperate in his saving work by helping bring “liberty to captives and freedom from oppression.

Call to Action:

The EQUAL Act is bipartisan legislation that seeks to eliminate the disparity in sentencing for cocaine offenses, a major contributor to mass incarceration. It would apply retroactively to those already convicted or sentenced. As people of faith, we cannot continue to tolerate racial profiling, brutality and hyper-militarization in policing, the loss of future generations to mass incarceration, or the perpetuation of poverty. We affirm the truth that every person is entitled to dignity and equitable justice under law.

Help us ensure that the EQUAL Act is included in the Senate’s must-pass legislation by the end of this year.

Advent 2022: Better Neighbors Show Mercy to Families

NETWORK Lobby offers Advent reflections

Advent 2022: Better Neighbors Show Mercy to Families

Colin Martinez Longmore
November 28, 2022


The iconic image that so many people associate with Advent is the Holy Family – the baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, usually huddled in a stable and surrounded by livestock.

It’s not an auspicious start for the Son of the living God. A family that has no place to stay and barely any resources to get by is something we still associate with the margins of society. It’s clear that God wants to associate with humility and poverty.

But what happens next matters. In the Gospel infancy narratives – and our Christmas holiday traditions – we see people respond to this vulnerable family with effusive displays of mercy. The shepherds come to praise him. The magi arrive with their gifts. This is how they respond to a child born into poverty.

The Corporal Works of Mercy, understood by Catholics, are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, give alms to the poor, and bury the dead. The visit of the magi brought with it not only material assistance (gold), but resources used in the care of the sick (frankincense) and the dead (myrrh). The mercy of strangers helped the Holy Family to survive on their perilous journey during the infancy of Jesus.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus invokes a similar set of criteria for those who will join him in paradise. “For you saw me hungry and you fed me.” “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” It is by participation in these concrete acts of mercy that we believe we too shall be shown mercy. And as Jesus points out, it in doing these acts of mercy that we directly encounter and come to know him, our Savior.

As Christians gather around manger displays in anticipation of another Christmas, it’s still good to reflect on how struggling families are getting by today. As with the Holy Family, it may still require the extraordinary intervention of personal strangers. Except instead of songs of praise and expensive gifts, we can offer acts of mercy through political action.

The Child Tax Credit, which was expanded in both size and scope for only one year as part of the American Rescue Plan, lifted 2.1 million children out of poverty in 2021. It stabilized the finances of more than 36 million families, including 62 million children, and resulted in 716,000 fewer Black children and 1.2 million fewer Latino children in poverty. Now NETWORK is pushing to get the Child Tax Credit once again included in the end-of-year tax package, but we need your help.

Call to Action:

You can take action to help support the Child Tax Credit by calling your Senators. Tell them that Congress has an incredible chance to drastically reduce child poverty by ensuring the Child Tax Credit makes it into the end-of-year tax package, and you expect them to act on behalf of the children in your state.

Write a Child Tax Credit Letter to the Editor

Write a Letter to the Editor Supporting the Child Tax Credit

Letters to the editor (LTEs) are a powerful advocacy tool. They are among the most widely read sections of newspapers and magazines and are closely monitored by Members of Congress to find out what their voters are thinking. When LTEs are strategically coordinated and published, they can strengthen the impression of widespread support or opposition to an issue or piece of legislation. Often, they can influence editorial writers to take a stand or influence other members of the media to probe an issue more deeply. While they start out as one voice, LTEs can build a movement!

Your LTE about the Child Tax Credit is incredibly timely, as we are calling on Congress to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit before the end of the year! Also, your letter is contributing to nation-wide, targeted, multi-tactic strategy to make sure that 19 million children and their families can receive the full Child Tax Credit!

Tips for Powerful LTEs

Follow guidelines of the publications to ensure you have the correct length, style, and format. Remember that most publications prefer letters to be 250 words or less.

  • Timeliness is key. Many newspapers publish letters responding to articles, editorials, or other letters the day after they appear.
  • Frame your letter in relation to a recent news item or topic. A letter is more likely to be published when it is written in response to something that has appeared in the publication.
  • Use local, specific information whenever possible. To find your state specific data, please go to 
  • Be aware of your audience: use talking points that will appeal to the readers, avoid jargon and abbreviations, and do not engage in personal attacks.
  • Include your credentials
  • If you are using a sample letter from an organization, do not copy talking points verbatim. Papers can search for canned content after it is published one time.

1. Start with your qualifications.

“As a Catholic who is dedicated to living out the social mission of my Church, I am calling upon Senator Cornyn to support an expanded, fully refundable, monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC).”

2. Tell them what you think!

“It is a moral imperative to end child poverty and hunger, and Congress has a tool do just that with the CTC. This program has a proven, transformative impact on the lives of children and families. We know that the expanded CTC led to historic reductions in child poverty, especially for Black and Latino children. However, under current law, there are over 2.1 million children—including over 1.7 million Latino and Black children–in Texas alone who are excluded from the full CTC because their families’ incomes are too low. It is not only just but common sense to make the full CTC available to these families!”

3. Bring it together with a legislative ask.

“I call on Senator Cornyn to support an expanded, fully refundable, monthly Child Tax Credit. All of Texas’ children, from the Panhandle to Dallas to the Gulf Coast, deserve to live healthy and productive lives, and the Child Tax Credit is important way to support children and families.”

Find submission guidelines on your local paper’s website and send.
  • Found on the same page where you found length rules.
  • Submission will either be to an email address or online form.
Quick Tips:
  • You can write to multiple local papers.
  • It helps to tie your LTE into a recent story run by the paper.
  • Wait three weeks before repeating.

For additional information about writing and submitting a letter to the editor, watch this training from former NETWORK Press Secretary Lee Morrow: