Dozens of religious groups converge in Olympia for Interfaith Advocacy Day

By Brenda Kay Neth

SHA resident

The Faith Action Network (FAN) hosted Interfaith Advocacy Day in Olympia on Feb. 9, bringing together at least 70 different religious groups from around the state.

Several hundred gathered in The United Churches of Olympia sanctuary to hear speeches by religious leaders, including Rev. Tammy Stampfli, Bishop Kirby Unti, Rev. Eliana Maxim, and Aneelah Afzali. Sen. Bob Hasagewa (D) of the 11th district addressed the mental health system, and urged listeners to rally for the creation of new revenue to support social services.

Aneelah Afzali,  executive director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound-American Muslim Empowerment Network, discusses how to stop Islamaphobia.

Aneelah Afzali, executive director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound-American Muslim Empowerment Network, discusses how to stop Islamaphobia.

Presenter Max Patashnik, of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, discussed issues that impact Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) and the Aged, Disabled or Blind (ADB) programs. Patashnik emphasized that outreach in one’s own faith community would help to create more advocacy and thus more funding for these services.

After the workshops, a press conference was held in which Rep. Derek Stanford (D) and Sen. Guy Palumbo (D), both from the 1st district, discussed HB 1956,and SB 5308 which prohibit the state from sharing information about a person’s religion.

HB 1956 and SB 5308 prohibit a state agency from providing or disclosing to federal authorities personal information regarding the religious affiliation of any individual that is requested for the purpose of compiling a database of individuals based solely on religious affiliation.

“We are not going to stand by silently and watch the scapegoating of an entire religious community. We can’t let that happen,” said Rep. Stanford. He added that while he didn’t know how long it would take for the bills to become law, discussions are being held “on both sides of the aisle.”

Aneelah Afzali, Executive Director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound/American Muslim Empowerment Network(MAPS-AMEN) urged attendees to not only support these bills, but to try becoming educated about Islam and meeting with Muslims to gain a better understanding of their lives and community contributions.

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