During the 2016 presidential election, 22 percent of eligible Georgia voters were unregistered. Four years later that number has dropped to just two percent.
Rev. Dr. Willie Jennings, professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale Divinity School and author of After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, said that the critiques against U.S. Senate candidate Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock are an attempt to “take from Black religious figures” what is granted “to white religious figures.”
Even before ballots were cast in the 2020 presidential election, many were suspicious of how the Trump White House would handle a potential transfer of power. As the election wound down with clear margins in President-elect Joe Biden’s favor — and as Donald Trump continued his refusal to concede — more people began to use the word “coup.”
“President Trump and some of his appointees have sowed fear and division among religious communities,” says the letter. “The Biden administration must act quickly to correct these actions and reclaim a positive vision of religious freedom that protects all Americans.”
“We understand that this policy is being used to distract us from the fact that you are policing us at a greater rate than ever before,” said Brittany White, who spent five years at an Alabama correctional facility after being convicted of drug trafficking and now works to engage newly enfranchised voters. “We are not fooled by this First Step Act and the other minor policies that have been implemented.”
As this uncertain post-election period continues in the United States, we must be prepared to help calm communities, prevent violence, and protect each other through disciplined and strategic nonviolent action.
“I’ve been a pastor for 44 years in Detroit in the urban setting. I have never seen this level of organization and mobilization toward an election as I saw this time,” said Bishop Edgar Vann II, senior pastor of Second Ebenezer Church. “This one went deep into the literal souls of people because everything everyone has gone through this year.”
Yesterday our nation saw 144,000 new COVID-19 cases, a staggering and heart- wrenching number, particularly as our nation tries to turn a corner after such a bruising election. While we both felt an overwhelming sense of relief and hope when news broke Saturday that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared winners of the election, events of the past few days show that this continues to be a season for fervent prayer, vigilance, and, if necessary, faithful action.
Before winning the election, Biden touted endorsements from more than 1,600 faith leaders, the largest number for a Democratic candidate in modern history. The noteable outreach could be attributed partially to President Donald Trump’s relationship with religious conservatives. The increasing visibility of religious leaders in progressive politics also provided an opportunity. However, when looking for a catalyst to the campaign’s faith outreach, experts in faith and politics point to Joe Biden himself.
When Republicans talk about having the “right” to pursue legal challenges, they are technically correct and morally shameless. Put simply, they are indulging a narcissistic bully on the political playground, damaging trust and community for all. Any psychologist or pastor will tell you that just trying to give a vengeful narcissist more time to calm down, and “let things play out,” will only make matters worse. We’ve tried that for almost four years. And it has gotten worse. The same will happen after four more weeks, or four more days, or four more hours.
On Aug. 19, as she accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president of the United States, Harris quoted 2 Corinthians 5:7 expressing her commitment “[t]o the Word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight. And to a vision passed on through generations of Americans ... of our nation as a Beloved Community — where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.”
“I’m a practicing Catholic. I believe faith is a gift. And the first obligation we all have is, ‘Love your God,’ the second one is, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” Biden said. The president-elect’s religion and theology had been a central part of his pitch to “restore the soul of America,” which has been reflected in his schedule, policy, and statements from the campaign trail.
In Alabama, polling sites in low-income areas of Birmingham were relocated with no explanation and very little warning to residents – many of whom typically struggle to acquire a reliable means of transportation. Luckily, poll chaplain commissioner Sheila Tyson was there to galvanize the community and organize free rideshare services to get these voters safely to the polls and back home.
Preliminary exit polling indicates that religious voters maintained many of the political allegiances they have kept for the past several decades — with one possible exception: white Catholics. About two-thirds, or 68 percent, of voters who identify as Christian cast their ballots for President Donald Trump while 31 percent voted for Joe Biden, according to the latest numbers from Edison Research, which conducts a national exit poll for the news media.
Should the faithful take to the streets in protest to combat political injustice, they will be following the footsteps of religious groups across the globe that have responded with nonviolent action during times of civil resistance.
It was a fitful night of what I can only generously describe as sleep. Maybe you can relate. I drifted off to sleep early, only to be awakened at midnight by my wife, who had received the latest election alert on her phone. My 7- and 9-year-old sons were also one edge almost all Election Day, worried about my day trip to Philadelphia and showing an uncanny degree of interest in the constant news coverage.
Voters in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Illinois, and Minnesota all reported that fellow voters opted to invalidate their absentee ballots at the polls on Election Day and cast their votes live instead. Their reasons included concerns about their absentee ballots being received on time, mail-in votes being counted legally, and finding a dropbox for the ballots.
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.