It’s National Voter Registration Day! Today is a national day of action to increase participation in our democracy.
As part of our Faith Climate Justice Voter Campaign, we partnered with When We All Vote to provide us with our own voter registration portal that allows people to check their voter registration status or register to vote.
Why check if you’re an experienced voter? Well, a lot has happened since the last election. Some have moved, changed their name, turned 18, or attained citizenship. Individuals who were previously incarcerated may now be eligible to vote. And it’s possible some of us may have been “purged” from the voting rolls. Now is the time to find out!
By Mike Kennedy, Faith Climate Justice Voter Campaign Manager August 17, 2022
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Bethesda, Md.’s Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation encouraged an IPL webinar audience that voting is a “sacred obligation” and “awesome opportunity.”
“The Jewish tradition says, if something matters enough, it’s no longer just a good idea,” Dobb, an IPL board member, said during IPL’s August 9 webinar about sermons, divrei Torah, and khutbahs crafted to encourage voting. “It’s mandated. Like charity. You can give even more, but a certain amount of generosity is actually obligatory, not just voluntary. We call it ‘tzedakah’, not just charity, but righteousness and justice.”
“Same for voting and for involvement in the democratic enterprise within a free society. It’s not just a good idea. It’s, religiously speaking, the law. Voting and defending democracy, is, in Jewish parlance, a mitzvah, a sacred obligation that is in turn also an awesome opportunity. I pray that we can all articulate in our own faith language how this is, in fact, a holy imperative for all of us.”
The webinar reminded faith leaders of the importance of using their prophetic voices to call the faithful to live by their most deeply held values in an election year, and that voting is one way we can all bring forth a world rooted in those values.
Imam Mustapha Elturk, President of the North American Islamic Organization in Michigan, said the Prophet Muhammad once stated, “Whoever sees something that is detested, let him change it by hand.” Elturk added, “I use the word ‘hand’ to mean authority. We could change things through the courts, but more so through the ballot. Go out and vote. Take with your ‘hand’ this ballot and stick it in the (ballot) box.
IPL Board Chair the Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley offered important counsel to those who don’t preach. “So if any of you who are not necessarily clergy but you need your (spiritual) leader (to preach on voting), you’ve got to let them know that they have an obligation,” Durley said. “They have been, we call it in our tradition, called for such a time as this, to speak to the conditions of our people.”
“Can I use a word that we don’t use now?,” Durley asked. “Right and wrong. There are certain things that are just not right. It’s not right what these petroleum companies are doing. It’s not right what they’re doing in the gas and fuel. So in (preaching), you’re not talking about red or blue, you’re talking about some basic fundamental ethical questions that need moral answers to, and that will give people the impetus to try to move ahead to make a difference and I think that that’s how you inspire people.”
The full webinar and short answers from it are available here. If you want to offer a message this fall on the importance of voting, let us know here and we will send you a nonpartisan sermon resource document.
Faith groups responded to the historic, and for many unexpected, milestone of a potential breakthrough on climate legislation . . . with a mixture of joy, shock and cautious optimism after years of prayer and advocacy.
Encourages Religious Voters to Reflect on Shared Faith Values in 2022
Washington, D.C. — Today Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) released a “faithful voter reflection guide” in advance of the upcoming election season. The guide discusses many of the defining moral issues that are on the ballot, including faltering democratic institutions, too much wealth in the hands of a few, damage to the climate, and threats to global public health and security.
The guide, endorsed by other national faith-based partners and IPL state affiliates, will be distributed across the country for discussion in diverse faith communities. It includes discussion questions for reflection and sample questions to ask candidates.
Interfaith Power & Light and IPL state affiliates released these statements about the voter reflection guide:
Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power & Light:
“The release of this guide comes at a moment in time when we are seeing the threat to our democracy that voter suppression poses, and when the intersections between climate change, global health, systemic racism, and other moral issues are on the ballot. The time is ripe to examine how our spiritual and religious beliefs can and should be serving the greater good, through dismantling structures of oppression and curing the disease that threatens our common home. We know that if we want a country that reflects our highest values, we have to participate thoughtfully in elections.”
Codi Norred, Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light:
“Georgia Interfaith Power & Light will be distributing this faithful voter reflection guide throughout our network of interfaith congregations around the state. Economic, racial, and climate justice are urgent moral issues. Using our voices to fulfill our civic duty and vote in every election makes a difference in our communities.”
David Heayn-Menendez, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light:
“Whether Pennsylvanians of faith are at their kitchen table, in their house of worship, at a community forum, or at an event with political candidates, we hope this faithful voter reflection guide helps them navigate the urgent moral questions facing our nation in this year’s election.”
Interfaith Power & Light is a national nonprofit organization with 40 state affiliates and 22,000 congregations in all 50 states. IPL inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change.
Faith, Health, and Political Perspectives on Paths Forward
Join PA IPL for our October Statewide Monthly Meeting and Program on October 18th at 7pm. This month’s meeting will focus on if President Biden’s Build Back Better Act is passed.
Three speakers will address the potential of the bill if passed, the impact it would have, and the role of communities and individuals of faith and conscience in passing and following through with the investment in climate justice.
Register now and receive an email providing the Zoom link for the meeting.
There is no fee for this program, but a suggested $5 donation will help us keep doing this work.