Arms Trade Treaty
Early in 2011, we began working with groups to advocate for the Arms Trade Treaty. Our goal was to create an environment in which the administration could support and Secretary Kerry could sign the (Arms Trade Treaty) ATT. This required actively shaping a positive meta-narrative in favor of the treaty that would appeal to constituents of opponents, and effectively responding to attacks as they arose by the NRA and others.
It was critical that US officials understood that if they supported a UN vote on the ATT in 2013, they would have the backing of faith, values, and military constituents to counter the political sway of the NRA and Heritage. This made evangelical and rural voters especially important, and meant we needed to establish and amplify support by faith voters and leaders early. To help demonstrate this support, we launched an email campaign to 9 million moderate/ conservative Christians urging them to participate in a Day of Fasting and Prayer for the ATT. The emails and pledges were so successful that we were able to run two full-page ads in POLITICO listing the names of the tens of thousands of Christians and churches who pledged to pray.
We helped get letters of support from key global Christian leaders, including the heads of the evangelical churches in Southern Sudan, the Alliance of Evangelical churches in Africa, and the World Evangelical Alliance urging American Christians to take interest in the Treaty negotiations. Following this support, we worked to launch an online media campaign promoting the Day of Fasting, got pieces published in Relevant Magazine and the Huffington Post, and got buy in support from the NAE and NCC.
In 2012, sensing concern from Administration officials about backlash from false claims by the NRA that ATT would limit second amendment rights, we organized a press call with NAE VP Galen Carey & Admiral Stuart Platt to counter 2nd Amendment concerns. We also flew in Bishop Taban, the head of the evangelical churches of South Sudan, and one of our generals to join Galen in a series of State Department, White House, and Hill meetings that ultimately resulted in the Administration altering its position on two key elements of the treaty we’d been most interested in.
Our campaign received positive press in Christian and political media about the ATT, including coverage in The New York Times, Relevant Magazine, Christian Post, The Hill, NPR, Politico, and the Washington Post. In recognition of his leadership and voice in our campaign, Bishop Taban was awarded the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2013 Global Citizen Award.
It also received international attention, and we were invited to publicly present Secretary General Ban Ki Moon with a major declaration signed by evangelical and Catholic faith organizations, and Bishop Taban was invited to address the General Assembly at the start of final negotiations.