Voting clergy aim to keep the peace on hot election day

Voting clergy aim to keep the peace on hot election day

Voting clergy aim to keep the peace on hot election day

As tensions mounted on election day, often over who would be allowed to oversee the vote during one of the more heatedly contested years and the resulting midterms, at least one group hoped to keep the peace. I went to election: Pastor.

Like their counterparts in the military, these trained volunteers – whether appointed clergy or those inspired by religious faith – were on hand to provide voters with spiritual guidance, calm and bipartisan support. on campus Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and six other battlefield states. If necessary, poll pastors sent by DC-based Faiths United to Save Democracy were also ready to connect people with legal aid to ensure their votes would be counted.

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“Lawyers and callers, we call it,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder and former head of Sojourners, a Christian community that focused on turning the teachings of Jesus Christ in the gospel into action-achieved social justice.

Wallis, who oversaw the Pol Chaplins’ activities from a command center inside the National Council of Negro Women’s headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, said a long tradition stretching back to the early civil rights era to unite religious belief and political action. The organizations built on ensure voting rights of all the people. Some deployed as pole chaplains in 2018, while the United Church of Christ also trained clergymen during the 2020 election. He said that politics and religion mix to such an extent that many religious leaders consider voting sacred.

“It’s Jewish, it’s Muslim, it’s Christian, it’s Quaker. It’s young, old, black, white, Asian, Latino, Native American,” said Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, who founded Faiths United to Save in 2021 Partnered with Wallis to establish Democracy. He said religious leaders across the country felt it was necessary to redouble their efforts to protect the vote after the 2020 election, when election laws were passed in several states which were considered by many to be unfairly banned.

“We need to broaden our focus,” she said.

the organization To date, more than 700 Pole pastors have been trained, said Wallis, who heads the Center on Faith and Justice at Georgetown University, primarily in strategies to reduce conflict and maintain peace.

In addition, the organization has organized webinars and other educational instruction on voter rights and the importance of voting. and it has given electoral clergy Fact sheets on each state so they can answer voters’ questions, such as what to do if they’ve moved since the last election or how they can get a foreign language interpreter. The group has also tapped into a more extensive network of people, such as the Committee on Civil Rights and the ACLU, through a hotline to assist with legal challenges.

“Thousands across the country are helping us,” she said.

The organization’s election leaders helped in early voting in states where it began on September 29, and some will be on duty during what is expected to be a long countdown in some states.

“They are people of faith,” Williams-Skinner said. “They make for a calm, peaceful presence in a very turbulent time in the country.”

During a videoconference check-in on Tuesday afternoon, most reports of election pastors on the ground were relatively unequivocal.

Rev. Donta McGilvery, wearing a T-shirt with the words “Justice” and “Jesus”, drawing an intersecting cross over the letter “S”, said a man was harassing voters, demanding to know whether He voted accordingly. Their faith in Jesus, but otherwise the morning had calmed down.

Bishop Harry Seewright, speaking from Alabama, said he was impressed by the overwhelming turnout and the spirited mood of the people, who felt that democracy was on the line in this election and that they were ready to fight for it. “We’re seeing some positive results,” Seurat said.

Wallis and Williams-Skinner expressed satisfaction that things were calm so far, adding that electoral clergy have not been so fortunate in other recent elections.

“In Arizona, he saw men with rifles standing within a clear distance but were visible, their faces covered in a dangerously military-like outfit. And elsewhere, they saw people making notes and making notes. See also his pictures being taken in threatening ways,” Williams-Skinner said. “We tell him during training, ‘Don’t argue with people. Don’t argue You are there as the ambassador of Faiths United to Save Democracy. ,

He said that no one has been beaten or hurt. He and others believe that so far the presence of electoral clergy at many polling places has kept the peace.

Williams-Skinner said, “When you see a priest or pastor or imam or rabbi and for most people they have pastoral apparel, that signifies some level of peace and tranquility.”

After the election closed, Wallis said, reports started pouring in from across the country. “Voters were very well received and as expected had a nice, sober presence,” he said. “Now we turn to the fair counting process, which was very important last time.”

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