As New Religious voting bloc announces plans to activate 100,000 Families First Voters, dozens of candidates and elected officials pledge to advance the Families First Agenda – join fight for Pre-K for All, Healthcare, and end misuse of jails.

Indianapolis, IN – Over 1,000 people of faith, from towns all across Indiana, crowded in the North United Methodist Church on April 21st for the Families First Convention.  Here dozens of candidates and elected officials, from six counties, pledged to reject racialized scare tactics in their campaigns, instead focusing on pre-k, healthcare, and ending the misuse of jails as part of the Families First Agenda. Faith in Indiana, which brings together the state’s 17 largest religious denominations, ushered in a new religious voting bloc with plans to activate 100,000 families first voters – to hold elected officials accountable to its Families First Agenda with their vote in upcoming midterm elections.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, I didn’t have to add ‘Will my insurance company drop me?” to the list of terrifying questions keeping me up at night because of the ACA,” explains Nicole McLaughlin, Faith in Indiana leader from St. Joseph County. “Now, greedy corporations and the politicians they pay for are using scare tactics to divide us while they steal our healthcare. We deserve representatives in DC and at the State Capitol that will  fight for us,” she says.

Over the last year, Faith in Indiana talked to over 10,000 Hoosiers in big cities, small town, church basements, and door-to-door in neighborhoods to shape the Families First Policy Agenda that focuses on treatment over incarceration, citizenship over deportation, and Opportunity for All. At the meeting, elected officials at every level of government – from both parties – pledged to take steps this year to put families first.

US Senator Joe Donnelly pledged to reject the use of scare tactics in his campaign, and fight for Indiana families in DC by protecting healthcare at every turn – rejecting any effort to repeal, replace, or give tax breaks that will drain money from our social safety nets and

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett committed to fully implement the Families First Agenda, starting with making sure the Mayor’s new Violence Reduction effort gets the technical training to fully implement national best practices proven to dramatically drop homicides in the next six months. He also affirmed his previous commitment to work with Faith in Indiana to make sure all components of the people agenda to end mass incarceration are fully implemented and encouraged his colleagues across the state to do the same.

Allen County Sheriff Dave Gladieux and over a dozen other elected officials and candidates from across the state pledged to meet county chapters in the next 90 days to talk about steps they will take to advance the ‘Families First Agenda’.  Those that fully committed to the Families First Agenda at the meeting included: Mayor Joe Hogsett, Mayor of Indianapolis Cindy Kirchoffer (R), State Representative District 89 John Barnes (D), Candidate for State Representative District 89 JD Ford (D), Candidate for Senate District 29 Carey Hamilton (D), State Representative House District 87 Lisa Beck (D), Candidate for House District 19 Chris Chuyng (D), Candidate for House District 15 David Gladieux (R), Allen County Sheriff Dee Thorton, Candidate for Congressional District 5 Bill Benjamin, Candidate for Marion County Sheriff Marion County Sheriff John Layton, Elizabeth Lamping Beech Grove City Council President.

Faith in Indiana’s policy agenda includes a set of steps that can be taken this year, including:

Families First Counties: Mayors, Sheriff’s, and Prosecutors can End ICE Detainers, End Money Bail, and Launch Ceasefire – a proven strategy to cut homicides in half.

Families First State: Indiana legislators can 1) pass legislation to fully fund pre-k for every 4-year-olds, expand Healthcare, and jail diversion programs for the mentally ill, addicted, and poor. And they can fund these ‘Healthy communities’ strategies with new revenue generated by putting in place a cigarette tax that could generate $300 million and 2) Promote a Fair Democracy -extend polling hours, early voting, and fair redistricting so every voice is heard and every vote counts.

Families First Nation: Indiana’s members of congress can invest in families rejecting any budget proposal or administrative action that attempts to repeal, replace, or give tax breaks that will drain money from our social safety nets or add new monies to fuel the needless deportations.

At the convention, this unprecedented statewide coalition of 164 faith institutions, labor, and community groups launched new Faith in Indiana chapters in 6 counties; Allen, St. Joseph, Elkhart, Lake, Hamilton, and Marion bringing people together across lines of race, political party, and the rural/urban divide committing hundreds of volunteer shifts and money to build a unified electorate of 100,000 Families First voters that aims to hold elected officials and candidates running for office accountable to the Families First Agenda long after Election Day.

“From Moses to Jesus, Frederick Douglass to Abraham Lincoln, for generations people of faith and moral courage built moral movements to propel our nation forward. We’re calling on public officials to stop blaming and start listening,” said Rev. Shannon MacVean Brown, Act Indiana, “That’s why we spent the last year talking to 10,000 families to weigh-in on our Families First Agenda, and we’re committed to make sure 100,000 know where the candidates stand on this agenda.”

Act Indiana, a new social welfare organization established by Faith in Indiana in 2017, was also introduced at the Families First Convention. Act Indiana‘s new state table – which includes SEIU, UniteHere, and other progressive organizations – is building shared tools and capacities to expand the scope and influence of people of faith and marginalized people to achieve racial and economic justice in Indiana.

“People of color in our six target counties make up 2.6 times the margin of victory from the last U.S. Senate race in 2012,” explains Bernita Drayton Act Indiana leader and Chair of SEIU Executive Board, “The numbers are there, just look to Alabama. That’s why we are committed to reach out to 100,000 people of color, youth, and working families often ignored by traditional campaigns and parties and let elected officials and candidates from every party know; it’s time to stop blaming and focus on the solutions are families need: pre-k, healthcare, and end the misuse of jails.”  


VIDEO: View the live stream of the event here:

PHOTOS: Please keep checking back, photos will be available shortly at Faith in Indiana’s Flickr Account: