The Faith & Politics Institute brings political leaders together around the shared values that make effective democracy possible – conscience, courage and compassion.
We inspire them to engage with each other. Preserve their personal values in public life. And refocus on why they ran for office in the first place: to make a true difference for those they serve and our nation as a whole.
To accomplish this, we offer a variety of engagements that include our renowned Congressional Pilgrimages.
By focusing on the unwavering commitment our nation’s leaders all share in service to our Nation, The Faith & Politics Institute helps overcome obstacles and build the bridges necessary to cultivate mutual respect, moral reflection and honest conversation.
"Faith & Politics urges us to lift up, go to those mountain tops of inclusion and of justice and of fairness and of acceptance…"
–– Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland
We invite all political leaders, along with senior professional staff members, to participate in our inspirational pilgrimages, weekly reflection groups, retreats, discussion forums, Congressional Conversations, Dinner Dialogues and other programming.
Our widely acclaimed pilgrimage to Selma on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” brought together 100 bipartisan members of Congress. Led by John Lewis, participants included Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
Below are a few of The Faith & Politics Institute’s acclaimed pilgrimages.
In 2016, led by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a bipartisan delegation of members of Congress journeyed through South Carolina, where we stepped back to examine the history of the civil rights movement with luminaries, political leaders and historians. In Charleston, lessons of forgiveness were received from survivors, victims’ families, and the city’s political and law enforcement leadership in response to the racially motivated mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church that took the lives of eight members of a bible study and the pastor.
Since 1998, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has led close to 300 members of the U.S. House and Senate, as well as Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, through Alabama on this nearly annual trip. In Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma, they explored the events that dramatically challenged racial discrimination and turned the course of American democracy. Political leaders have universally described the pilgrimage as a transformative moment.
In 2016, in a second pilgrimage to South Africa, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s “Ripples of Hope” speech. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), moved by the anti-apartheid leaders he met, reflected that “the United States and South Africa can and should look to each other for lessons and inspirations as we continue to work to heal the damage of racial injustice, to reverse the trends of economic inequality, and to protect our experiments in democracy.”
"During this [Alabama] pilgrimage, there are times when the walls between us come down. We begin to see ourselves, not as Democrats or Republicans, not as members of the House or Senate, not as advocates of differing views, but we see ourselves as Americans on a journey to discover our roots.”
–– Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia
The Faith & Politics Institute is governed by diverse leaders from the public and private sectors. Guided by personal values and mutual respect, we’re dedicated to the belief that our democracy thrives when political leaders ground their work in conscience, courage and compassion, and we work exclusively toward that end.
Since our founding in 1991 by Reverend Doug Tanner, former Rep. Glenn Poshard (D-IL), Anne Bartley and Reverend Joe Eldridge, we’ve offered members of Congress and other political leaders opportunities to advance the self-reflection and unity necessary for effective leadership.
From 1997 – 2005, Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and Rep. Amo Houghton (R-New York) co-chaired our Board of Directors, raising our profile and broadening our reach. Rep. Lewis continues his remarkable work with us and leads our Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimages.