Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC)

This profile was last updated in 2005

The Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) is a non-partisan, interfaith public policy organization. The JRLC began in 1970, when lobbyists for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Minnesota Council of Churches, and the Jewish Community Relations Council decided to pool their resources to support their common agendas. Today this initially informal relationship has developed into a formal process which requires the boards of each of these three sponsoring organizations to approve all Coalition position statements. This formal affiliation with official representative groups of the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish communities makes the JRLC’s interfaith statements uniquely representative of the positions of its member communities. In 1996, the JRLC invited the American Muslim Council of Minnesota to join the Coalition as an official observing organization. This arrangement allows the AMC to learn the process of the JRLC while meaningfully participating in the organization’s discussion and approval process. Both the AMC and JRLC hope that as the Muslim community continues to organize itself for political action, the AMC will be able to achieve full membership status in the Coalition.

The purpose of the Coalition is threefold: first, to lobby the Minnesota legislature on issues of social justice; second, to research social issues that confront the state; and third, to coordinate grassroots support of such JRLC initiatives as affordable housing, access to health care, human rights, farm aid and migrant workers’ rights. The JRLC was highly involved in the introduction and passage of legislation against hate crimes in the state of Minnesota, and has written issue papers on topics including corporate responsibility, American Indian issues, ecology, fairness in taxation, the death penalty, human rights and sexual orientation, and term limits. The Coalition’s web site includes issue papers, justice alerts, and tools to encourage citizens to express their opinions to the Minnesota legislature.

Brian Rusche, the executive director of the JRLC, notes the importance of the interfaith basis of the JRLC’s work: “The realization of human dignity is fullest when it is done in community. The great prophets and Jesus instruct us to build right and just communities, and in the United States, the public policy process is an important place to do this work.” Its members hope that the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition may serve as a model of effective, united interfaith action for social justice.