NJ faith leaders, advocates aim for a ‘just’ New Jersey

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

They’re a new group of faith leaders and advocates who “… have come to declare a prophetic agenda that is unapologetically non-partisan, prophetic and grounded in a moral vision of a just New Jersey,” according to Rev. Robin Tanner from Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

New Jersey Prophetic Agenda says the Garden State has fallen way short of providing health care to all its children.

“New Jersey has one of the largest disparities in health coverage between white and Hispanic children in the nation, with Hispanic kids more than three times more likely than their white neighbors to be uninsured,” said Raymond Castro, director of health policy at New Jersey Policy Perspective. “That is inexcusable in a state that prides itself on its diversity and protecting kids.”

The Agenda says it supports Gov. Phil Murphy’s push for universal coverage and says it’s time to expand the state and federally funded CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“Not only as a moral imperative, but knowing that it is a choice we all need to make to show our children that we value them and the next generation,” said Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action.

“It should not be viewed as something that the legislators are going to give the children. It is something they must provide,” said Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge.

New Jersey Prophetic Agenda says it’s a non-partisan group but what it stands for sounds very liberal.

“We are a network of nonviolent love revolutionaries,” said the senior pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Willie Dwayne Francois III.

Heads were nodding as Pastor Francois elaborated.

“All human beings are sacred and all human beings must live in a state, in a nation, in a city that honors that dignity by fulfilling the rule of sufficiency,” Francois continued. “We are declaring that race, and gender, and poverty, and immigration status are no long death sentences in our state.”

“I would say it’s grounded in a moral framework of justice across multi-faith traditions, and so if that’s what it means to be liberal, then it’s liberal in that sense,” Tanner said.

New Jersey Prophetic Agenda says its members already are working with lawmakers and they have faith it will lead to change