Faith and Politics Institute

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The Faith & Politics Institute
MottoCultivation conscience, courage, and compassion
Headquarters110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 504
President and CEO
Joan M. Mooney

The Faith & Politics Institute is a Washington, D.C. non-profit organization that serves members of Congress, national political leaders, and senior congressional staff by offering experiential pilgrimages, reflection groups, retreats and public forums." Through its nonpartisan programs, the group "works to bridge racial, religious, and political divisions among elected officials, while promoting reflective and ethical leadership.[1][2] Since 1991, over 300 hundred members of Congress have taken part in efforts "that encourage collaborative and visionary leadership practices and foster healing, civility, and respect."[1]. Joan M. Mooney serves as its President & CEO. While many Democratic and Republican Congressional Representatives work with the organization, including those on its Congressional Advisory Board, Representative John Lewis, a former leader of the Civil rights movement in America, has played a special role in its programs, including its annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama.[3]


The Institute was founded in 1991 to "provide bipartisan, bridge-building opportunities for political leaders to experience the spiritual power of conscience, courage, and compassion."[4]

Plans for the group resulted from an early "reflection group" that included Rep. Glenn Poshard, Ms. Anne Bartley, Rev. Joe Eldridge, and Rev. Doug Tanner. Convinced of the importance of such opportunities for reflection, Tanner founded the Institute in 1991 "with the hope of providing opportunities for meaningful interactions and experiences among those who lead and serve our nation", Some of the Institute's earliest efforts were linked to the "Common Ground" program, providing opportunities for staffers and members to help rebuild churches burned by arsonists in the mid-1990s.

In 1997, the organization expanded its programs when then-President Rev. Doug Tanner persuaded Representative Amo Houghton and Representative John Lewis (D-GA) to serve as the co-chairs of the group's Board of Directors.[5] Their involvement brought in many additional members and leaders of Congress interested in dialogue across party, religious, racial, and ideological lines, creating a "spiritual community of men and women who seek a better way to do the people's business."[5]

Board and Advisors[edit]

The Board consists primarily of Government Relations professionals, and lawyers specializing in Government Regulation practices, representing such companies as American Airlines, American Bridge, American Values Network, Arent Fox, Aspen Institute, Association of American Publishers, Capital Concerts Inc., Coca-Cola Company, Covidien, Eleison LLC, Escambia Enterprises, Federal City Council, Fluor Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Goldman Sachs Group, Jewish Funds for Justice, Lightbridge Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Moore Consulting, National Association of Broadcasters, National Democratic Institute, Regions Financial, The First Group, The Memorial Foundation, TwinLogic Strategies,[6] United Health Group, and Williams & Jensen, and others.[7]

Programs and activities[edit]

Activities within these three broad areas include reflection groups, retreats, pilgrimages, and public forums. The weekly reflection groups and occasional retreats are important opportunities seek to provide opportunities for members of Congress and other political leaders who work in the "fast-paced and charged atmosphere of Washington, D.C., to "connect their role with their greater calling as human beings." The public forums include lectures by well-known speakers "whose lives reflect moral courage in the political arena;" past speakers include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh, authors and thought leaders Bryan Stevenson, JD Vance, Sam Quinones, Arthur Brooks, and jon a. powell. The pilgrimages allow men and women from both houses of congress, along with staff members and special guests, to take part in trips that provide information, inspiration, and opportunities for reflection on the lessons to be learned from past struggles, such as the civil rights movement. The annual pilgrimage to Montgomery and Selma Alabama that includes a walk over the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge is an event led by Representative John Lewis, an early civil rights leader.[8] Other special activities include:

  • The Lewis-Houghton Leadership Awards: recognizing leaders "who have exhibited qualities of conscience, courage and compassion in their roles as public servants."
  • United States-South Africa Faith and Politics Initiative: In May 2003, The Faith & Politics Institute provided program conceptualization, planning, and coordination for the Congressional visit (CODEL) to South Africa, led by Reps. Houghton and Lewis. This visit provided an opportunity to compare lessons learned from America's civil rights movement and South Africa's fight against apartheid, and established links for future dialogue.
  • Saint Joseph's Day Breakfast: an annual breakfast program, including a speaker and awards ceremony, on Saint Joseph's Day. Because Saint Joseph is recognized by many as the patron saint of the worker, the Institute's St. Joseph's Day breakfast was founded "to raise awareness of the spiritual and moral issues that affect economic life in America." [9]
  • The Congressional Reception: Every other year, this reception acknowledges both those who have supported the Institute's efforts and those who have been inspired by its programs.[10]

The Faith & Politics Institute just concluded its annual Congressional Pilgrimage to Alabama that was focused on Art, Architecture, Story & Song, featuring a visit to Montgomery's new Memorial for Peace and Justice and Legacy Museum. The Institute brought together over 40 of Senators and Members of Congress in a bipartisan fashion to reflect on the Civil Rights struggle of the past. For the 50th Anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," there were about 90 lawmakers in attendance during the 3-day weekend including addresses and appearances by former President George W. Bush and President Obama in Selma, Alabama.


Through partnership efforts with other organizations, the Institute extends its reach by co-sponsoring special events that its basic missions. Some groups, like the Fetzer Institute, partnered with the Institute to support a wide variety of its programs,[11] while others focus on specific events, including:

  • Congressional Conversations on Race: co-sponsored with Search for Common Ground, and founded on a belief in the need for the nation's leaders to recognize the spiritual nature of our nation's historic racial wounds, and work together toward healing.[12][13]
  • Civil Rights Heroes: Buried but not forgotten: in partnership with Sewall-Belmont House, the District of Columbia, GLAAD, and the National Park Service, honored women and men buried in the Congressional Cemetery, who played key roles in advancing justice and equality for all. One of the men honored was Leonard Matlovich a Vietnam war veteran Tech Sergeant, who had spoken out against discrimination against gay and lesbian service personnel.
  • Muslims in America: The Faith & Politics Institute, along with the Newseum's Religious Freedom Education Project and Wesley Theological Seminary, hosted evening of storytelling and honest dialogue what it means to be Muslim-American in our contemporary context.


  1. ^ a b "Grants 2010". 13 June 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Congressman John Lewis Recieves [sic] Medal of Freedom". The Common Ground Blog. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Faith and Politics Institute". NNDB. 14 November 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Staff and Board". The Faith & Politics Institute. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  6. ^ Christina Wilkie (April 16, 2014). "Lyft Prepares To Fight Ride Share Regulation By Hiring GOP-Linked Lobbyists". The Huffington Post.
  7. ^ "Leadership". The Faith & Politics Institute. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. ^ "11th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage". The Faith & Politics Institute. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  9. ^ "St. Joseph's Breakfast". Constant Contact. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Programs and Activities". The Faith & Politics Institute. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimages". Fetzer Institute. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Congressional Conversations". 26 March 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  13. ^

External links[edit]