Voting Rights, Justice, and Faith

What does voting have to do with faith?

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U.S. law is deeply embedded with systemic racism. It is also deeply embedded in the history of faith communities.

That’s why, since the murder of George Floyd, I have been hosting “The Uncomfortable Conversation Series.” In these hour-long discussions, spiritual leaders are engaged in deep listening and heartfelt discussions. Each conversation has subject matter experts sharing their views on various aspects of racism. The legal system, healthcare, access to food, and the voting process are all woven by racist policies.

With the presidential election next Tuesday, November 3, “Racism, Redlining, Re-Districting and Voting Rights” couldn’t have been a more timely topic for October’s Uncomfortable Conversation. My guests included David Daley, best-selling author, and senior fellow for FairVote. David is a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms, widely recognized as one of the leading national authorities on voting rights and partisan gerrymandering. Gilda Daniels also joined me, Assistant Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She is a voting rights expert and former Deputy Chief in the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division Voting Section. Gilda served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Voting and Faith

You might ask what voting has to do with faith. Or what faith leaders can say about voting. I did.

Professor Gilda Daniels, the daughter and granddaughter of Baptist preachers answered me this way. “I quote this scripture in my book: 2 Timothy 3:5, ‘Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.’ Using that analogy toward our democracy, we have a form of democracy. Still, it is not operating into its full power as long as it continues to suppress and prevent people from participating freely and fairly. I do not see any difference between talking about Jesus, liberation, and freedom. He came to set the captives free from discrimination.”

If our form of government re-encaptivates people through voter suppression, which you can learn about in the video, then that’s not the last word for the Christian. Jesus promises something better, something bigger, something freer than the system as it is.

As we move toward an election that will set the course of our country for decades to come, I invite you to listen to this discussion with my knowledgeable guests. Afterward, respond with your action to further the ministry of Jesus, who came to set the captives free.

And don’t forget to vote.

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