More than 80 religious groups for passage of Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014

Leaders say work to ensure voting rights is ‘far from complete’

June 4, 2014

LOUISVILLE

More than 80 religious groups ― including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ― have signed onto a letter to the U.S. Congress urging passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899/S.B. 1945).

The letter reminds Senators and Representatives that people of faith were strongly behind passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).

“The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which stripped critical protections for voters in striking down a key provision of the VRA, reminds us that our work is far from complete.”

The letter notes that U.S. Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, in issuing the Shelby County v. Holder ruling, called on Congress to update the VRA.

The full text of the letter, dated May 28, 2014 ―

As organizations that collectively represent tens of millions of diverse people of faith across the United States, we write to share our strong support for the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899/S.1945) and urge its swift passage by both chambers of Congress.

Many people of faith proudly fought for the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, which took historic steps to prohibit the discriminatory voting practices that denied and abridged the rights of so many in our communities. The Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which stripped critical protections for voters in striking down a key provision of the VRA, reminds us that our work is far from complete.

The teachings of our respective faiths may diverge on issues of theology and practice, but all speak clearly of the imperative to pursue justice and treat each and every human being with dignity and respect. We are united in standing up for those most at risk of having their voices silenced at the ballot box. We are inspired to do what we can to protect the right of each individual to play a role in shaping the future of our cities, towns, states and nation. What is at stake in this fight is the very nature of our society, whether we can truly call ourselves a democracy in which each citizen can cast a vote to choose our leaders and shape the direction of our country.

Chief Justice Roberts called upon Congress to update the Voting Rights Act. Every day that passes without Congressional action brings new voting procedures unreported at best and outright discriminatory at worst. This bill is not perfect. We remain concerned that voter ID laws are treated differently from other potentially discriminatory policies and that a “known practices” formula, which would provide recourse against some of the most common discriminatory practices, is not included. Yet, we are united in the belief that now is the time to build on the critical tools in this legislation and stop discriminatory voting practices wherever they occur.

Voting rights legislation has long been—and continues to be—a shining example of bipartisan unity. We urge you to support the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3899/S.1945) and see that its modern, commonsense provisions are swiftly enacted. Thank you for your consideration.

Signers of the letter include: Am Kolel Jewish Renewal Community of Greater Washington; Ameinu; American Baptist Churches U.S.A. ; American Baptist Home Mission Societies; American Friends Service Committee; American Jewish Committee; Amir; Anti-Defamation League; AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps; B’nai B’rith International; Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice; Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, Reading, Pa.; Capuchin Franciscans of the Province of St. Mary (Conn., Maine, N.H., N.Y., Vt.); Community of Christ.

Also: Conference of National Black Churches (CNBC); Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York, N.Y.; Disciples Center for Public Witness (Disciples of Christ); Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Disciples Justice Action Network; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Faith in Public Life; Franciscan Action Network; Franciscan Friars; TOR; Province of the Immaculate Conception; Franciscans for Justice ; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Global Faith and Justice Project, Santa Fe, N.M.; Global Justice Institute.

And: Hindu American Foundation; International Council of Community Churches; Islamic Society of North America; Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action; Jewish Community Action; Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Jewish Council on Urban Affairs; Jewish Labor Committee; Jewish Reconstructionist Communities; Jewish Women International; Jews for Racial and Economic Justice; Jews United for Justice; Keshet; Leadership Conference of Women Religious; Leadership Team of the Felician Sisters of North America; Leadership Team, Sisters of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio; Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office; Metropolitan Community Churches; More Light Presbyterians.

As well as: National Council of Churches, U.S.A.; National Council of Jewish Women; National Council of Jewish Women, Austin Section; National Council of Jewish Women, Maine Section;  

National Council of Jewish Women, Peninsula Section; National Council of Jewish Women, Seattle Section; National Council of Jewish Women, Texas State Policy Advocacy Network; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources; NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; Pax Christi USA; PICO National Network; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Detroit; Rabbinical Assembly; Reconciliation Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

And: Reconciling Ministries Network; ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation; Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Religious Institute; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Sikh Council on Religion and Education; Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Pa.;

Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, Ohio; Sojourners; Surat Initiative; The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists; The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; The Solomon Project; The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring; Union for Reform Judaism; Unitarian Universalist Association; United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society; UNITED SIKHS; Uri L’tzedek; Valley Interfaith Council;Wheaton Franciscans, Wheaton, Ill.; Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual.

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