The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee is a nonprofit interfaith agency that represents 13 judicatories and faith denominations in the Milwaukee area. The organization strives to address social issues affecting the quality of life in the Milwaukee area. The 13 denominations represented have approximately 500 congregations of different faiths in the Milwaukee region.
“When the proposed Wisconsin budget repair bill first came to light, Interfaith cabinet members decided our congregations would be best served by allowing each denomination to release independent statements on the issue based on their own teachings and understanding of things,” said Tom Heinen, executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.
According to Heinen, some represented denominations preferred to speak out more strongly than others, and coming up with a statement everyone could agree to wouldn’t be as strong as some if they were issued independently.
“These are difficult issues, and people in the congregations are divided on the subject,” Heinen said. “All of our religious leaders realize that our organization has a tradition of speaking on behalf of the poor and the voiceless in our community. It is our goal to make sure they have a voice and that the budget repair is not balanced primarily or solely on their backs.”
The religious leaders represented in the Interfaith Conference also have called for bi-partisanship, Heinan said.
“Most will agree there needs to be some give-and-take negotiations and call for statesmanship among the legislatures,” he said. “It’s difficult to tell whether or not there is a sense of optimism. There is certainly a lot of concern. The state faces some significant budget problems. Our religious leaders aren’t being Pollyannaish about that. They are very concerned, but they are also very concerned about the process, very concerned that the poor and those that will suffer the most will have not have their interests represented. We need to all share in the pain and work on this budget collaboratively and humanely.”