Protect Voting Rights
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Greetings of peace!

The fundamental belief behind democracy is that everyone’s voice has equal say in the decisions being made. Over the past year, we’ve seen hundreds of challenges to that belief -- both through legislation and through individual acts. All of this is even more deeply challenging to wrestle with because we know that the political sphere, even in its most perfect form, is not going to bring us the solutions we are searching for.

Protecting voting rights is an urgent and essential need, which is why Pax Christi USA is partnering to host the March On for Voting Rights, this Saturday, August 28th, on the 58th anniversary of the March on Washington. Since the start of 2021, 48 states have collectively introduced 389 bills that contribute to voter suppression. There are two bills in Congress that could reinstate some of these rights -- the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. These two pieces of legislation share similarities, but they serve as bookends to one another for comprehensive democracy reform. One without the other is not enough. 
“The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery. The nonviolent revolution is saying, ‘We will not wait for the courts to act, for we have been waiting hundreds of years. We will not wait for the President, nor the Justice Department, nor Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands, and create a great source of power, outside of any national structure that could and would assure us victory.’ For those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait!’ we must say, ‘Patience is a dirty and nasty word.’ We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually, we want our freedom, and we want it now."

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963
Ultimately, we know that even once the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are enacted, there is still work to be done. People who are incarcerated or living with a felony conviction, those without citizenship, survivors of power-based violence needing to maintain anonymity for their safety, and countless other populations will continue to face barriers to voting access unless we push for even more reforms. These essential pieces of legislation remind us of the many reasons to continue working towards the elimination of barriers in every facet of our democracy.
In peace,

Lauren Bailey
National Field Organizer, Pax Christi USA
"I, TOO"
by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

from Faithful Democracy Coalition
People of faith have long been at the heart of the movement to expand and protect the right to vote. Faithful Democracy, an interfaith community of organizations and congregations, including Pax Christi USA, hosted this interfaith event to begin the week of events leading up to the March On for Voting Rights. During the webinar, attendees were able to join with faith leaders across the nation to resist voter suppression and garner inspiration.


> Read "Women Religious state: The sacred right to vote must be protected" from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the National Black Catholic Sisters Conference.
In October 2019, Pax Christi USA Bishop-President Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv. offered support for the Voting Rights Act by submitting a quote for the official record of the hearings on “Voting Rights and Election Administration in America”:

"Since voting is so fundamental to our democracy, all citizens should be committed to making it possible for everyone to exercise that right. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR4) is critical to having a genuine representative democracy and to make sure that the most vulnerable populations are not disenfranchised from the democratic process. People of faith are concerned that the voice of the people be truly representative of all the people." –Bishop John Stowe, Bishop-President, Pax Christi USA

> Join your local March On for Voting Rights rally. Events are being hosted in cities across the nation. To find the event closest to you, click here and scroll down to “join the march.” If there isn’t one near you, join one of the various virtual marches.

> If you're in DC, meet Pax Christi USA staff at the corner of 15th St. NW, and Constitution Ave. NW, at 11:30am to attend the rally together. The program will take place from 11:30am-3:00pm. To confirm your attendance and stay in touch on the day-of, please respond to this email with your name and contact information. If marching in another city, feel free to download and get your local printer to print this banner for your group to use.

> Find more ideas for action at the Faithful Democracy site here.
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