Faith leaders commit to voter engagement
ST. PAUL (July 26, 2018) — Around 150 clergy and faith leaders from Christian and Muslim communities in the cities and rural Minnesota gathered at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Saint Paul on Thursday to commit to the public work of voter engagement for economic and racial justice in this election season and beyond.
“We are facing toxic and racist political rhetoric in this election, and we believe this election year is not about making a choice between candidates or parties — it’s about the kind of leadership and politics we accept as Minnesotans,” said the Rev. Oby Ballinger, pastor of Edina Morningside United Church of Christ. “We recognize that the candidates for Governor, and whoever is elected as governor, has an essential role in setting the narrative of who we are to each other as Minnesotans.”
The faith leaders that gathered committed to encouraging their congregants and members of their faith communities to vote in the general election, and also to a sermon series, pledge drives and robust voter engagement efforts that are grounded in their faith values. The leaders expressed their major concerns in the state being the need for a caring economy that includes paid family leave, paid sick time, healthcare, eldercare and childcare, ending Islamophobia, dismantling mass incarceration, immigrant justice and climate justice.
All gubernatorial candidates were invited to speak to this multi-faith, multi-racial and multi-geographic group of clergy. Governor candidate Erin Murphy and lieutenant governor candidate Peggy Flanagan of the Tim Walz ticket accepted the opportunity. Jeff Johnson declined the invitation. Lori Swanson and Tim Pawlenty did not respond to several invitations. Both Murphy and Flanagan laid out their visions for the state and the ways in which they propose to create something new or better the political arena for the benefit of Minnesotan families.
The congregations and faith communities present are joining hundreds of ISAIAH affiliated churches and mosques across the state to make a public commitment to one another and to their shared values of abundance, hope, love and community. The goals for voter turnout are to engage hundreds of faith institutions and getting each to pledge to vote 100 percent on their values.
The leaders of the participating faith communities said they are exercising their civic and voter engagement around the governor’s race, but acknowledges there are many important political races taking place across the state this year.
“As people of faith we have to be audacious enough to lead the way in casting the vision that God has given us,” said Ahmed Ansur, director of Al Ihsan in St. Paul. “God’s bold vision for a hope and love filled, abundant community is possible, if we create it. An election cycle as important as this one is the optimal time for that vision to be made clear and public.”
ISAIAH is a multi-faith, multi-racial, state-wide and nonpartisan faith-based community organizing coalition in Minnesota. Our 200 member and partner congregations and mosques create racial and economically equitable communities through intentional, intensive leadership development; collective, faith-based actions; and deep partnerships with grassroots organizations and public servants.