WHO WOULD HAVE thought that a verse from the first chapter of the Bible would become an “altar call” for a presidential election? Here is our call to faith as we look to Nov. 3: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’ ... So God created humankind in image” (Genesis 1:26-27).
I believe this text about the creation of humankind in God’s likeness is the foundation of politics for people of faith. It means how we treat other human beings, including our fellow citizens, is a theological matter and not just a political one. Mistreatment of our fellow human beings and citizens is also not just a political problem but an offense to the image of God, an assault on imago dei.
Protecting the image of God in the upcoming election means protecting the voting rights of Americans of color, whose votes some are trying to suppress, deliberately and strategically. The faith community is responding.
Sojourners and the African American Clergy Network have been working together to protect access for Black voters, and the many calls we’ve had with Black clergy and white allies in the nine states under largest threat of voter suppression have been the most encouraging and hopeful conversations I’ve had this year. It’s been wonderful to hear Genesis quoted in meetings with election officials, as clergy leaders explain why we bring so much passion to this effort.
Black pastors turned out for those calls despite increased responsibilities as their congregations have been unequally impacted by COVID-19. Those clergy recruited others, and the phone calls and video meetings multiplied.
These clergy leaders are meeting election officials with a simple message: We Are Watching. We have educated thousands of people about threats against election integrity, and they’ve been prepared to act to ensure access for all voters. We have sent tool kits and other resources to people all over the country.
Churches are adopting polling places, and their members will join lawyers—through the Lawyers & Collars initiative—at the polls, ready to solve problems, challenge unfair processes and practices, and make the presence of the faith community’s moral authority felt. In addition, command centers of lawyers and clergy are being set up around the country, staffing phone banks ready to address election issues as they arise.
Now it is up to all of you. I am asking you to step up, speak up, and stand up for the image of God at our polling places and early voting sites, and for the safety of mail-in ballots. Preach, call 866-OUR-VOTE or visit lawyersandcollars.org, sign up, donate, train to be poll workers or volunteers to help the churches already engaged, and bring your churches and congregants along.
Act in faith. Join in to ensure every single person’s vote is counted in this election season to protect the image of God.