On Tuesday, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to repeal controversial voting restriction laws that were “supposed to go before voters on Nov. 6 — the first known case in Ohio history in which legislators repealed a bill up for referendum.”
While any opportunity to reinstate voting rights should come a welcome development, the repeal left in place rules that end in-person voting the weekend before Election Day and prevents Ohioans from acting on their referendum rights.
We Believe Ohio—a group of faith leaders in the Buckeye State—are standing up against these Republican-passed limits to early voting.
A member of the group, Rev. Timothy Ahrens of the First Congregational Church in Columbus, said people of faith have moral obligation to defend voting rights
There seems to be a crisis in this state when lawmakers need to play games and pull tricks instead of restoring the opportunity for voting for all Ohioans. It’s a moral issue that we have as a sacred trust in this American democracy an opportunity and a chance to vote. There is a need for early voting and the question before us today is: is early voting going to be Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day? [Editors’ Note: More than 93,000 Ohioans voted during that three-day period in 2008]
As numerous state legislatures work to restrict the voting rights of historically disenfranchised groups of people, people of faith and voters around the country will need to keep standing up for every individual’s right to vote and reject discrimination at the polls.
Christopher Hale contributed to this post.
Photo Credit: Kristin_a. Flickr
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As state level bans of the death penalty gain steam across the United States, an old advocate has re-emerged as a prominent voice against capital punishment: Jimmy Carter.
Last Friday, the former President again called for an end to the death penalty in an editorial for the Associated Baptist Press.
Deploring the United States’ “fascination with the death penalty,” Carter listed out what he called “the overwhelming ethical, financial, and religious reasons to abolish the death penalty.” Carter noted that the death penalty has been unsuccessful in deterring violent crime, decimated states’ budgets and been applied unjustly across racial lines.
Chief among Carter’s concerns, however, is how the death penalty violates the teachings of Jesus Christ. He wrote:
Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and misinterpreting Holy Scriptures and numerous examples of mercy. We remember God’s forgiveness of Cain, who killed Abel, and the adulterer King David, who had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Jesus forgave an adulterous woman sentenced to be stoned to death and explained away the “eye for an eye” scripture.
Sadly, Carter stands in a league of his own. He is the only American President in modern history to advocate for the repeal of the death penalty.
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As the Supreme Court weighs the Department of Justice’s case against Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez has an op-ed in The Washington Post reaffirming the USCCB’s opposition to the law and explaining the moral principles behind their position:
Most disturbing, upholding Arizona’s law would change our American identity as a welcoming nation, which has served us well since our inception. The goals of Arizona-type laws are to discourage immigrants from coming and to encourage those who are here to leave. We must carefully consider whether that is the signal we want to send to the world, given that immigrants and their ancestors—all of us—built this country and will continue to renew it.
Archbishop Gomez’s letter comes on the heels of the USCCB joining the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to submit an amicus curiae brief in the case (over 50 other faith-based groups signed a separate brief as well) and the inclusion of this issue as an example of threats to religious freedom in the bishops’ letter on the subject earlier this month.
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Great news from the Nutmeg State:
After more than nine hours of debate, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s death penalty, following a similar vote in the State Senate last week. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases.
Via The New York Times
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Two nationally prominent pastors — Joel Hunter of Northland Church in the Orlando area, and NAACP Vice President of Stakeholder Affairs Rev. Nelson Rivers III — have an op-ed in today’s Orlando Sentinel about the faith community’s role in addressing the many societal ills exposed by the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s killing, such as racial division, the devaluation of young black men, and our culture’s exaltation of violence. Here’s their conclusion:
…as the fallout of this tragedy shows, we don’t all mourn when the innocent die. National opinion polls, media sensationalism and offensive rhetoric reflect that the death of this young man has become a flashpoint for division rather than a call to reconciliation among too many Americans.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Not too long ago, lynchings were commonplace, entire towns were off-limits to people of color, and police brutally enforced segregation. But the Civil Rights Movement showed that the teachings of our faiths can foster the peace, love and courage that break down barriers, change people’s hearts and build a more just society.
We can bring about the day when being the wrong race in the wrong place at the wrong time isn’t a life-threatening circumstance. But progress will take an honest acknowledgement of how much work we have to do, and an earnest desire to do it. We owe Trayvon Martin and the countless others who are killed on our streets and in our communities every day our best effort. The teachings of our faith demand nothing less.
Having racially diverse clergy speak out as the tension escalates in the media and in the community where Trayvon was killed is important right now. Read the whole thing here.
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