Advocacy Can Make A Difference

As we educate and advocate for change, we are always reminded of our own vulnerability.

Communication and Cooperation June 3, 2024

On May 25, 1888, Senator H.W. Blair of New Hampshire submitted a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment aimed, in essence, to make the American public school system Christian. This change in the constitution would have caused the dominant religious group, Christians, to push their worldview on government schools at the expense of religious freedom. However, the proposed amendment did not eventuate due to the advocacy of Alonzo T. Jones, editor of the American Sentinel (now Liberty magazine). The question that lingers in my mind is: what if Jones had not advocated for an alternative?

There is a need for tactful advocacy by Adventist advocates in order to ensure that our schools can continue to flourish and share Jesus. The Macquarie dictionary defines advocacy as “an act of pleading for, supporting or recommending.” We advocate for Adventist education, for example, by pleading our cause, supporting good legislation, and recommending alternate ways of achieving common goals.

Like the case of the Blair amendment in the United States, Australia is confronted with proposals that seek to amend legislation, relegate religious freedom, and oppose Adventist philosophy of education. Multiple jurisdictions in Australia are amending legislation which currently allows religious educational institutions to utilize preferred staffing. Novel legislation instead aims to secularize religious educational institutions by requiring them to employ and retain staff who share alternative worldviews. Thus, Christian schools—including Adventist—are being required by law to employ staff who may not share a Christian or Adventist belief system. This undermines religious freedom and compromises the autonomy of religious educational institutions.    

With the rise of ideologies opposed to the Adventist educational philosophy, it may well be in the interest of all faiths—and those with none—that we advocate for religious freedom for all. Through advocacy, Adventist schools are able to dialogue with the government, find constructive ways to foster religious freedom, and promote equity for other stakeholders. 

The Macquarie dictionary also describes an advocate as: “one who pleads for or on behalf of another.” As we educate and advocate for change, we are always reminded of our own vulnerability. We can thus embrace John’s reassuring words, “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous” (1 John 2:1-2, NLT).


Kojo Akomeah

Kojo is a trained pastor, teacher, and lawyer, currently serving as Associate Director for Public Affairs and Religious Liberty at the Australian Union Conference and Adventist Schools Australia.

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