U.S. FAITH LEADERS CONDEMN VOTING RESTRICTIONS
In Georgia, faith leaders are asking corporate executives to condemn laws restricting voting access — or face a boycott. In Arizona and Texas, clergy have assembled outside the state capitols to decry what they view as voter-suppression measures targeting Black and Hispanic people, David Crary, Jonathan J. Cooper, and Emily Leshner reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Similar initiatives have been undertaken in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and elsewhere as many faith leaders perceive a threat to voting rights that warrants their intervention in a volatile political issue.
“It is very much in a part of our tradition, as Christians, to be engaged in the public square,” said the Rev. Dr. Eric Ledermann, pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Tempe, Arizona, after the event outside the Statehouse.
“When people say, ‘Let’s not get political in the church’ — Jesus was very political,” Ledermann said. “He was engaged in how his culture, his community was being shaped, and who was being left out of the decision-making process.”
Georgia already has enacted legislation with various restrictive voting provisions. More than 350 voting bills are now under consideration in dozens of other states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy think tank. Among the proposals: tightening requirements for voter IDs, reducing the number of ballot drop boxes, and curtailing early voting.
African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Bishop Reginald Jackson, who oversees AME churches in Georgia, has been urging corporate leaders to do more to fight voting restrictions. So far, he’s dissatisfied with the response and says he may call for boycotts of some companies.
In numerous states, voting rights activism is being led by multifaith coalitions that include Christian, Jewish, and Muslim groups.
Here is what some of the faith leaders are saying: the Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, executive director of Missouri Faith Voices, for whom the issue is “very personal” and adds “I’m from Alabama, a little town called Demopolis. It’s 47 miles west of Selma, where my mother fought for rights, went to jail on Bloody Sunday (in 1965). ... So those are the stories that I grew up with. I never imagined that I would still be fighting the same fight.”