Religious leaders from diverse faith traditions are speaking out and organizing against a surge of voter suppression in states across the country. Pastors, rabbis, and imams have lobbied lawmakers, written op-eds, and pressured corporations in response to laws that create barriers to the ballot box and disproportionately impact Black voters. When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial and widely criticized election reform package last month, activists (including from my organization, Faith in Public Life) were especially vocal in protesting the law’s prohibition on giving food and water to people waiting in line to vote.
Amid this growing resistance to attacks on voting rights, however, the Catholic hierarchy is silent. The Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Georgia Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, have issued no statements since the law passed. The archdiocese declined to comment for this article. At the national level, Church leaders are also quiet.
In recent months, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has opposed the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people; objected to abortion funding in the American Rescue Plan; and expressed support for legislation that would protect faith-based adoption and foster providers that refuse to place children with same-sex parents. The conference has also addressed mass shootings and the Armenian genocide, and has lauded immigration-reform legislation.
But there has been no public reaction from the bishops’ conference to the fact that in forty-seven states, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, Republican lawmakers have proposed 361 bills with restrictive provisions that, among other things, would limit mail-in, early in-person, and election-day voting. Nor have bishops voiced any public support for legislation in Congress—the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—that respond to the proliferation of state-level restrictions with proposals to expand voting access and curb partisan gerrymandering.
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