Nielson Pierce Jr., pastor of Beloved Community Church in Cincinnati, writes in a Colorlines piece about the relationship between church and state, but not in a way that the issue is typically discussed. Rather, he focuses on restrictive voting legislation and says that “God is concerned about what happens to the most vulnerable in our society, and I want to help our elected officials to be concerned about the very same thing that God is concerned about.”
Pierce, who is also the lead organizer of the AMOS Project, explains why, for him, voting rights are a matter of faith.
I was operating in this “separate track” mindset when I started seminary. On the first day of my Old Testament class, my professor began with the following text, and it was like I read the Bible for the first time when I came upon Exodus 3:7-8a:
Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey …
Ohio’s 2004 election process was the source of national ridicule. Long lines forced many people to make a choice between voting and going to work on time, or voting and picking up their children on time from school or daycare. Machines broke down, causing already long lines to be still for hours at a time. In addition, many people were told that they were not eligible to vote, much to their surprise and dismay. As I saw reports of what was happening, and I heard the frustration and disbelief of United States citizens and Ohio residents who were kept from the voting process, I could not help but imagine that the same God who called Moses to speak to Pharaoh was not pleased with what was happening in Ohio.
As it turned out, God was not the only one not pleased. The external pressure by the media and voting rights organizations helped create internal pressure by the state government. A bipartisan effort to reform the voting process got underway and by 2008 many positive changes occurred. Among these changes were the advent of early, in-person voting and the expansion of vote-by-mail or absentee voting. These reforms made it possible for our state and nation to live up to its responsibility of hearing the voices of all of its citizens.
The sad news is that it was not long before the positive changes began to slowly erode …
Read more at Colorlines.