Public Policy Statements

Public Policy Statements

Member Denominations of the
Colorado Council of Churches
Justice Commission
January 2011

Affordable Housing and Housing Justice!

The member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support legislation and initiatives that will provide, build and create affordable housing, especially for low-income persons.  In a just world, all people would have decent affordable and safe housing.  The members of the Council recognize the serious shortage of affordable housing throughout the state and the growing gap between available and affordable housing, not only for very low-income and homeless people, but for people who work in the service sector, including retail, clerks and secretaries, and people who work in the public sector such as police, fire protection, and teachers.

Therefore, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support legislation that:

  1. Creates housing trust funds at the city, state, and national levels.
  2. Gives builders incentives to provide housing for low and middle-income persons in any building project.
  3. Recognizes the negative impact upon the environment, transportation systems, the community and individuals when service, public sector, and other workers must live many miles from their employment and when communities are built to exclude a diverse population.
  4. Provide quality and safer housing for the very poor, out of work and homeless populations, including support for those trying to get back to work and into a permanent home.

The member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support the efforts of Housing Justice!, an interfaith coalition working on housing issues, as well as the efforts of the Colorado Affordable Housing Partnership and will join with them and other groups in our state whose goals conform to those identified here.

Criminal/Restorative Justice

In his ministry, Jesus advocated care for those who were in prison.  His concern was not tempered by the cause of their incarceration.  He encouraged the disciples to visit those imprisoned.  In the letter to the Hebrews, the Christian community was urged to identify personally with those from the churches who were in prison:  “Remember those who are in prison as though you were in prison with them;” (Heb. 13:3)
As disciples of Christ, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches respond to Jesus’ mandate by visiting those in prison and jails, by praying for those incarcerated, and by providing spiritual care services.

Therefore, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support legislation:

  1. which protects the human dignity of prisoners,
  2. which preserves their civil rights,
  3. which enables their spiritual growth,
  4. which facilitates the healing of victims and offenders alike,
  5. which enables mediation,
  6. which fosters community support.

As a vital part of accomplishing these goals, we support state-paid, professionally trained chaplains in penal institutions.  We also support the concepts of restorative justice and alternative sentencing.

In addition, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support legislation that will reduce the implementation of the death penalty:

  1. the elimination of the death penalty coupled with the option of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
  2. a moratorium on the death penalty.
  3. any reduction in the offenses that may qualify for the death penalty.

Education of Children

“Almost a century after the first school finance reforms using state aid to reduce fiscal disparities among local school districts, almost 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education made segregated schools illegal, 35 years after the nation launched a “war on poverty” that made equalizing educational opportunities one of its main targets, 30 years after the first successful court cases overturning state education financing policies that made the educational resources available to children dependent on where they happened to live:  after all this time and effort, the United States still has an educational finance system supporting schools that in many places are separate and unequal.”

As we begin a new century, one in four of Colorado’s children lives in poverty and attends a school that is likely to be poorly funded, that is likely to marginalize children who are not of the dominant culture, and that may not be able to afford well-qualified teachers.  Further, these schools, due to lack of funding are not able to provide a comprehensive educational program equipped to meet the changing needs of all the children who attend.

Therefore, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support legislation:

  • That creates adequate and equalized funding for public schools as one of its priorities to assure access for all Colorado children to excellent comprehensive public education.


God is the creator and the redeemer of all creation, and humanity exists as a part of the complex web of ecological relationships that God has created.  Humans, with our unique place in creation, are called to caring and responsible stewardship of the earth.  As stewards, we are called to preserve and nurture the natural environment, and to be gentle and just in our use of the earth’s resources.  Key principles for stewardship that we bring to the legislative arena are sustainability, ecological diversity, justice, and choice.

Therefore, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches:

  1. Support efforts toward environmental justice, defined as the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to environmental laws and policies.  (Environmental Justice)
  2. Support policies that develop effective alternatives to one-car/one-driver transportation, especially as those policies decrease energy use and pollution, and minimize urban sprawl.  (Transportation)
  3. Support policies that preserve open space and wildlife habitats.  (Open Space and Habitat)
  4. Support policies that preserve and enhance air and water quality. (Air and Water)
  5. Support policies that reduce the use of fossil fuels, and that encourage alternative energy sources.  (Energy)
  6. Support “right to know” legislation that requires genetically engineered foods to be labeled in grocery stores.  (Genetically Modified Food)

Health Care

Health is central to our well being, vital to relationships, and helps us live out our vocations in family, work and community.  However, health care in the United States suffers from prolonged crises.  People unnecessarily endure poor health.  Rising health care costs leave a growing number of people without adequate health care.  Health care resources are often rationed based on ability to pay rather than need.  Finding access to quality health care services is difficult for many.  Fear and self-interest defeat social justice in the political processes of health care reform.

The stress on individuals and families because of society’s inability to fashion an adequate health care system makes action increasingly urgent.  The breadth and complexity of the challenges require serious conversations and bold strategies to establish the shared personal and social responsibilities that make good health possible.  The health of each individual depends on the care of others and the commitment of society to provide health care for all.

The Christian Church is called to be an active participant in fashioning a just and effective health care system.  Responding to those who were sick was integral to the life and ministry of Jesus and has been a central aspect of the Church’s mission throughout its history.  Health care and healing are concrete manifestations of God’s ongoing care for and redemption of creation.  Regardless of the means used to provide health care and ensure access to it, we must diligently preserve the nature of health care as a shared endeavor.  This means that we recognize our mutual responsibilities and guard against the ways in which motivation to maximize profit and to market health care like a commodity jeopardizes health the quality of health for all.

As the guarantors of justice and promoters of the general welfare, governments also have the unique role of ensuring equitable access to health care for all.  This role does not necessarily entail a specific governmental program or one approach to health care coverage.  It does mean, however, that governments have the obligation to provide leadership and coordination in balancing competing private and social interests in moving toward the goal of equitable access to health care.

We of the Colorado Council of Churches have an enduring commitment to advocate for public policies which promote the following principles:

  • Each person should have access to basic health care services that include preventive, acute, and chronic physical and mental health care at an affordable cost.
  • Health care should attend to the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of the person seeking care.  In cooperation with religious and other community organizations, pastoral and spiritual care should be available at all levels of health care services.  We endorse efforts to incorporate mental health services more substantially within the health care system and to grant mental health needs parity with other health care needs.
  • We call on government, at all levels, to provide sufficient and timely reimbursement to health care providers, community clinics, and social ministry organizations for the services they offer on its behalf, allowing them to fulfill their missions with integrity and faithfulness.
  • We urge renewed political and financial support for public health services undertaken on behalf of the entire community to prevent epidemics, limit threats to health, promote healthy behavior, reduce injuries, assist in recovery from disasters, and ensure that people have access to needed services.


The Colorado Council of Churches wants comprehensive immigration reform that recognizes the humanity and value of everyone within our borders, whether they are here legally, or not.  As Christians, the call to treat one another with hospitality and compassion is primary, especially when someone is a “stranger”:

  • The story of the Good Samaritan;
  • The question of who is my neighbor (the answer, everyone);
  • What you do to the least of these, you do unto me;
  • To treat your neighbor as yourself.

All of these scriptures entreat us to be especially kind to those who are different from “us.” The Council must stand on these values of hospitality, inclusion and compassion taught to us by Jesus Christ, especially in the context of the immigration issue as it faces our state and nation.

As we define the United States in regards to our immigration policy and the myriad issues which are connected to it, we need to stay aware of the human ramifications.  We are called to practice mercy and treat others with fairness, kindness and true justice. We must be aware, as well, of the subtle and not-so-subtle issues of racism and hatred that brew beneath the surface on this issue and we must be firm in calling upon Christians not to tolerate such bigotry and prejudice. Today’s immigrants are not the first; in fact, ours is a nation of immigrants and how we have treated and mistreated different people is an often painful part of our history, including the treatment of Native American people. As we struggle with the hardships and economic issues that affect everyone — employers, employees, children, schools, hospitals, public services, law enforcement — we must remember that as a nation and a people we are no better than how we treat the stranger amongst us.

We, the Colorado Council of Churches will advocate for and support legislation and policy that approaches immigration issues with compassion and respect toward all people and sensitivity toward our deepest values.


Economic life pervades our lives:  the work we do, the income we receive, how much we consume and save, what we value, and how we view one another.  An economy is meant to meet people’s material needs and the current market-based economy has done that to an amazing degree—for some people.  Others have been affected adversely, to the point of lacking even what is needed for basic subsistence.  The member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches feel a moral imperative to seek a just, sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all.

Strong themes in Scripture indicate that people are poor due to circumstances that have afflicted them (aliens, orphans, widows) or due to the greed and unjust practices of those who “trample on the poor” (Amos 5:11).  The prophet rails against those “who write oppressive statutes to turn aside the needy from justice” (Isa. 10:1-2)—in our day, August 1996, the “Welfare to Work” law.  We know that poverty is occasionally the result of personal choices or failures, but much more often it is caused by economic policies of governments, corporations and institutions, racism, gender bias, political marginalization, or combinations of these.

Poverty is at the root of hunger, disease, susceptibility to ecological disasters, illiteracy, mental and physical stunting, and premature death.  Perhaps the most injurious result of chronic poverty is despair—the loss of hope that things can improve for oneself or one’s children. Yet the poor of our world inspire and shame us with their often-persistent faith and their openness to and lack of hostility toward those of us who are among the world’s affluent.

Therefore, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support legislation:

  1. that seeks a just, sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all,
  2. that increases financial and medical assistance for those most in need.
  3. that protects programs that support the poor and most vulnerable when budget cuts need to be made.


In Luke 4:18-19 Jesus read from the Book of Isaiah,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
To set a liberty those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.  (Isaiah 61:1-2).

It was both a manifesto and a mission statement.  We believe that oppression is often the result of systemic and institutionalized racism.

Therefore, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support these changes to our justice system in order to ensure equity for all people:

  • Expand the definition of racism and racial profiling to include cultural and ethnic/religious background as well as skin color.
  • Support legislation that would oppose racial profiling, extending the definition beyond current “traffic stop” to oppose surveillance in stores, religious gatherings, or in any other setting.
  • Support legislation that would decrease or eliminate inequities in criminal sentencing practices.
  • Support legislation providing for immigration equity.
  • Support legislation to maintain equity at our borders, both North and South.
  • Support legislation against dismantling current legislation providing for an even economic playing field in terms of opportunities and jobs for all.
  • Oppose legislation that would contribute to the segregation of our people on the basis of culture, ethnicity/religious beliefs, and/or color, e.g. inappropriate zoning laws.
  • Support legislation that would eliminate racism in all its forms in our schools, including dismantling legislation that labels schools and students in areas of high concentrations of racial/ethnic groups as failures.  Providing funding that is not limited to property values and supporting any other legislation that would ensure equity in education for all students.
  • Support legislation that would review our public policies for any racist assumptions they may contain, and to take that racism out.  Such policies may include but not be limited to criminal justice, transportation, education, and the environment.

Sexuality, Families and Abuse

Our Christian faith and traditions affirm that:

  • Human sexuality, gender identity, and the need to be in relationship are gifts from God in our creation.
  • We are called by our faith to invest ourselves in relationships that are based responsibly in love, mutuality, faithfulness, and creativity.
  • Therefore, the member denominations of the Colorado Council of Churches support legislation affirming that adults and children shall live their lives in households free from violence, fear, or abuse in any physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual aspects of their relationships.

New Statement on Inclusivity to view click here