BY ISN STAFF | November 2, 2020
Over 1,100 faith and community leaders representing communities in all 50 states recently issued a joint call for federal, state, and local public officials to do everything in their power to guarantee that Americans are able to cast votes free of fear and intimidation and that every vote cast in the 2020 elections will be counted.
“The values of our faith traditions inform our dedication to this cause,” the leaders wrote in a joint letter to government officials demanding clear commitments to support election integrity. “All of the constitutional freedoms that we enjoy, including our religious freedom, depend on the integrity of our elections—the foundation of American democracy.”
Faith Leaders United, which organized the letter, is a bipartisan, multifaith coalition that bridges political, theological, and denominational divides. The coalition is calling on public officials to make four specific commitments, including:
- Our leaders must ensure a free and fair election in which all eligible Americans can safely cast their votes without interference, suppression or fear of intimidation.
- Leaders and election officials must 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.
- Leaders should share timely, accurate information about the election results and resist and avoid spreading misinformation.
- Leaders must actively and publicly support a peaceful transition of power or continuation of leadership based on legitimate election results.
Sent last week to political and governing bodies including both major party presidential campaigns, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the National Governors Association, National Association of Secretaries of State, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the letter has garnered support other faith leaders from the Ignatian network, including:
- Greg Carpinello, Executive Director, Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest;
- John Carr, Director, Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public life, Georgetown University;
- Fr. Joseph Daoust, S.J., Superior, De Smet Jesuit Community, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota;
- Rev. Abby King Kaiser, Director of the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice, Xavier University;
- Christopher Kerr, Executive Director, Ignatian Solidarity Network;
- Fr. James Martin, S.J., Editor-at-Large, America Media;
- Ambassador Miguel Diaz, The John Courtney Murray University Chair in Public Service, Loyola University Chicago;
- Fr. Ted Penton, S.J., Secretary, Office of Justice and Ecology, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States;
- Fr. Walter Smith, S.J., President, CEO, and Superior, Campion Jesuit Community
“Our right to vote and our ballot enable each of us to live out their values in the public sphere,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “By ensuring that every individual has access to voting and that their vote is properly counted, we uphold the inherent human dignity of each individual to contribute to our society.”
“Every person should be free to vote and every vote should be counted,” says Fr. Ted Penton, S.J., one of the statement’s signatories. As secretary of the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, Fr. Penton says this is a time to focus on the fundamental values that unite us, not partisan gain. “In the midst of a pandemic the process will inevitably take longer than usual, calling for patience. I pray that all candidates will put the common good above their own personal interests, to ensure that our election is free, fair and safe for all.”
To access the full text of the letter, please click here.