Hundreds of Faith Leaders Call for All Votes to Be Counted | Sojourners

Hundreds of Faith Leaders Call for All Votes to Be Counted

Voters wait in a long line to cast their ballots at Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on November 3, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Nick Oxford

Hundreds of faith leaders and organizations have released statements in the last week demanding that every vote be counted and expressing their peaceful commitment to the democratic process.

Before polls closed on Tuesday, National Association of Evangelicals president Walter Kim and National African American Clergy Network co-convener Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner joined leaders from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in a joint statement that says:

“With voting ending today, it is imperative that election officials be given the space and time to count every vote in accordance with applicable laws. We call on the media, the candidates and the American people to exercise patience with the process and trust in our system, even if it requires more time than usual. It is important to remember that challenges are a normal part of every election. We are confident our country and its institutions can rise to this historic moment.”

The statement is one of many actions that faith leaders have taken to use their influence to encourage a secure election. Before Election Day, nearly 40 Black faith leaders, clergy, and activist allies signed onto a statement organized by Faith for Black Lives declaring their plan to resists if any leader attempted a coup.

“Hopefully the candidate who loses the election will accept the result. But if he does not, we cannot acquiesce to a coup. We will not accept an illegitimate government,” the statement says. “We will need many different tactics — protests, occupations of state capitals, strikes — but fundamentally it will all require unity, courage, preparation, and discipline.”

The signatories include Freedom Road president and founder Lisa Sharon Harper, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference General Secretary Rev. Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, president of the AME Council of Bishops Bishop Michael L. Mitchell, and dean of Wiley College Rev. Dr. Dominique A. Robinson.

In a statement entitled Faith Leaders United to Support Free and Fair Elections, a bipartisan, multi-denominational group of more than 1,100 faith and community leaders from 48 states and Washington, D.C., called for election officials to, “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.”

“Voting is a right. It is not a privilege. … And because of it being a right, my understanding is that we all need to recognize that we have the right to vote and that we need to vote,” Rev. Kenneth Flowers, one of the signers and pastor at Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, said. “No one needs to be intimidated, no one needs to have their vote suppressed … we want everyone, everyone to be able to vote and we want every vote to count.”

Other organizations, like Faith in Public Life, held de-escalation training sessions over the weekend before Election Day. The “Keep the Faith: Count Every Vote Weekend of Action,” trained more than 800 leaders in nonviolent intervention at protests.