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Faith & Community Leaders to Gov’t Officials: “Protect the Vote, Count the Votes”

The coalition is calling on public officials to make four specific commitments.

Faith leaders from across Georgia joined a group of more than 1,100 faith and  community leaders representing communities in all 50 states on Tuesday as a part of a joint call for federal, state and local public officials to do everything in their power to guarantee that Americans are able to cast votes free of fear and intimidation and that every vote cast in the 2020 elections will be counted.

“The values of our faith traditions inform our dedication to this cause,” the leaders wrote in a  joint letter to government officials demanding clear commitments to support election integrity.  “All of the constitutional freedoms that we enjoy, including our religious freedom, depend on  the integrity of our elections – the foundation of American democracy.” 

Faith Leaders United, which organized the letter, is a bipartisan, multi-faith coalition that  bridges political, theological and denominational divides. The coalition is calling on public officials to make four specific commitments, including:  

  • Our leaders must ensure a free and fair election in which all eligible Americans can  safely cast their votes without interference, suppression or fear of intimidation. Leaders and election officials must count every vote in accordance with applicable laws  before the election is decided, even if the process takes a longer time because of  precautions in place due to COVID-19. 
  • Leaders should share timely, accurate information about the election results and resist  and avoid spreading misinformation. 
  • Leaders must actively and publicly support a peaceful transition of power or  continuation of leadership based on legitimate election results. 

“The right to vote and people’s ability to exercise that right is fundamental to the health and  integrity of democracy,” said Galen Carey, vice president of the National Association of  Evangelicals. “Voting is a sacred right and commitment, particularly given our nation’s long  struggle to extend the right to vote to every eligible citizen. As we enter the final week before  Election Day, every state must do all in their power to ensure a free, fair and safe election, and

that includes counting all of the millions of votes cast early and by mail and ensuring a  democratic, fair press following the election.”

“With its broad sweep, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into an unprecedented national  emergency, and yet, people are voting early, they’re voting by mail, in record numbers. Every  vote must be counted, anything less is voter suppression,” said the Rev. Dr. William Barber,  pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and former  distinguished professor of public theology and public policy at Union theological seminary. “To suppress the vote is to suggest that you have entered a ‘God Space’ and you can determine  other peoples’ reality and to suppress the vote is to suggest that other people do not have the  same Imago Dei, the image of God in you. Suppressing the vote is a form of political and  theological idolatry and sin, and it has no place in this democracy.”

Sent this week to political and governing bodies including both major party presidential  campaigns, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the  National Governors Association, National Association of Secretaries of State and the U.S.  Conference of Mayors, the letter has garnered support from Georgians including: 

  • Dr. Michael Battle, Retired Army Chaplain and Retired President of ITC; Rabbi Judith Beiner, Jewish Family and Career Svc of Atlanta; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Toni Belin Ingram, Augusta North District, 6th District AME Church; Rabbi Peter Berg, The Temple; 
  • LuAnn Binschus, Mormon Women for Ethical Government; 
  • The Rev. Ronald Bonner, LCR; 
  • Dr. Brennan Breed, Columbia Theological Seminary; 
  • Bishop Matthew Brown, Greater Community COGIC; 
  • The Rev. Jamal Bryant, New Birth Baptist Church; 
  • The Rev. Paul Capps, Peachtree Baptist Church; 
  • Minister Jeremy Colliver, Smoke Rise Baptist Church; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Steve Cothran, Central Baptist Church; 
  • The Rev. Christina Dondero, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Mark Douglas, Columbia Theological Seminary; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Gerald Durely, Interfaith Power & Light; 
  • Curtis Evans, Friendship Baptist Church; 
  • Pastor Will Francis, The HUB; 
  • The Rev. Joseph Grimmett, Shiloh Baptist Church; 
  • Neil Heath, Highland Hills Baptist Church; 
  • The Rev. David Key, Lake Oconee Community Church; 
  • Dr. Jung Ha Kim, Georgia State University; 
  • Dr. John Kutsko, The Society of Biblical Literature; 
  • Bishop Errenous E. McCloud, Jr., African Methodist Episcopal Church; Dr. Raj Nadella, Columbia Theological Seminary;
  • William Marcellus Professor of Old Testament Emerita Kathleen O’Conner, Columbia  Theological Seminary; 
  • Stephen Reeves, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; 
  • Dr. Rosetta Ross, Spelman College; 
  • Minister Rachel Sherron, First Baptist Church; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Kyle Tau, The United Methodist Church; 
  • Joash Thomas, International Justice Mission; 
  • Jay Tolbert, Green Acres Baptist Church; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Christine Roy Yoder, Columbia Theological Seminary. 

The letter has also received the support of national faith leaders such as:  

  • Bishop Claude Alexander, The Park Church; 
  • The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro,  North Carolina, and former distinguished professor of public theology and public policy  at Union theological seminary ; 
  • Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Galen Carey, National Association of Evangelicals; 
  • Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance; 
  • John Carr, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public life, Georgetown University;  Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Christians; 
  • Kim Daniels, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life; 
  • Dr. John Dilulio, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under  President George W. Bush; 
  • Mr. Joshua DuBois, Values Partnerships and White House Office of Faith-Based and  Community Partnerships under President Barack Obama; 
  • Justin Giboney, AND Campaign; 
  • Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League; 
  • The. Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, Auburn Seminary; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, United Methodist General Board of Church and  Society; 
  • President Emeritus Dennis Hollinger, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; The Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Community Resource Network; 
  • Dr. John Inazu, Washington University in St. Louis; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary; 
  • The Rev. Walter Kim, National Association of Evangelicals; 
  • The Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, The King Center; 
  • President Mark Labberton, Fuller Theological Seminary; 
  • Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, The Wesleyan Church; 
  • Imam Mohamed Magid, International Interfaith Peace Corps;
  • Fr. James Martin, SJ; 
  • Former President Dr. Richard Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary; 
  • Dr. Napp Nazworth, freelance writer; 
  • David Neff, former editor in chief, Christianity Today; 
  • Shauna Niequist, author; 
  • Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; 
  • Sister Norma Pimentel, Missionaries of Jesus & Executive Director of Catholic Charities  of the Rio Grande Valley; 
  • Dr. Alton B Pollard III, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; 
  • General Secretary Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation; The Rev. Amy Reumann, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; 
  • Melissa Rogers, Wake Forest University School of Divinity and White House Office of  Faith-Based and Community Partnerships under President Barack Obama; The Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; 
  • The Rev. Jeanette Salguero, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; 
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, former United States Ambassador-at-Large for International  Religious Freedom; 
  • Dr. Stephen Schneck, Franciscan Action Network; 
  • Dr. Ronald Sider, Christians for Social Action; 
  • Simran Singh, Union Theological Seminary; 
  • President Emeritus Rich Stearns, World Vision; 
  • Bishop John Stowe, Catholic Diocese of Lexington; 
  • The Rev. Adam Taylor, Sojourners; 
  • Bishop Anthony Taylor, Catholic Diocese of Little Rock; 
  • Bishop Walter Thomas, New Psalmist Baptist Church; 
  • Jim Wallis, Sojourners; 
  • Michael Wear, Public Square Strategies and author of Reclaiming Hope; Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, National African American Clergy Network; Sister Carol Zinn, Leadership Conference of Women Religious 

In addition to its appeal to public and civic leaders, the faith leaders are calling on “neighbors of  all beliefs and backgrounds to join us in this urgent commitment to support free and fair  elections, especially at this crucial moment for our democracy.”  

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