Voting rights, justice and faith

October 14th, 2020

Systemic racism is deeply embedded in U.S. law. As well as in the history of faith communities.

That’s why, since the murder of George Floyd, I have been hosting “The Uncomfortable Conversation Series.” This series of hour-long discussions was designed to engage spiritual leaders in deep listening and heartfelt discussion with subject matter experts on various aspects of racism. We explore how racist policies have been woven into the legal system, healthcare, access to food and the voting process.

With the presidential election less than 30 days away, “Racism, Redlining, Re-Districting and Voting Rights” couldn’t have been a more timely topic for October’s Uncomfortable Conversation. My guests for that discussion included David Daley, best-selling author and senior fellow for FairVote, a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms, who is widely recognized as one of the leading national authorities on voting rights and partisan gerrymandering. I was also joined by Gilda Daniels, Assistant Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and voting rights expert and former Deputy Chief in the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, where she served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

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, but 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 which 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 own action to further the ministry of Jesus who came to set the captives free.

And don’t forget to vote.

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