For Immediate Release: Nov. 6, 2018
Contact: Jennifer Farmer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-306-0136
By Partnering with Lyft, Hosting Souls to the Polls, Organizing Door-to-Door Canvasses, Hosting Voter Sabbaths and Phone-Banking, Faith in Action Broke Through Barriers in their Voter Engagement Work
WASHINGTON – Faith in Action, the nation’s largest network of faith-based organizing groups and congregations, today celebrated midterm electoral wins and outlined its agenda for 2019 and beyond. The organization ran its largest voter engagement program, Faith Votes, ever and held nearly 1 million face-to-face conversations with voters who traditional parties often overlook. Faith in Action is comprised of 45 federations and partners in four countries (U.S., Rwanda, Haiti and El Salvador), 22 states and 150 cities. Buoyed by their various faith and spiritual traditions, the organization won sizable gains for children and families through key ballot measures.
“This election wasn’t politics as usual,” said the Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director, Faith in Action. “We continue to fight to ensure space and place for all of God’s children. In addition to organizing in support of ballot measures that promote inclusion and belonging, we pushed congregations affiliated with us to become 100 percent voting congregations, organized several voter sabbath weekends where clergy committed to preach, teach and help parishioners make a plan to vote, launched a social media push urging our followers to record videos with a #LoveVotes message and organized Souls to the Polls in English and Spanish-speaking congregations. The 2018 midterms got us closer to a vision of society that is inclusive of people of all races, all faiths, all socio-economic backgrounds and all identities. We know that just because the polling places have closed, the fight for justice enters a new phase, one that is focused on changing hearts and minds.”
“Stoking xenophobic fear and anti-immigrant rhetoric was used as the closing argument to drive conservative voters to the polls,” said Richard Morales, campaign director for Faith in Action’s LA RED immigrant justice campaign. “Trump’s anti-immigrant racist strategy benefitted him and Republicans significantly in the Senate and in a set of key Governor’s races, showing how hard the road ahead of us is. But we also have hope, given the changes we’re seeing in the House and in some states. Congress should keep that message in mind as it considers the constant demonization of immigrants carried out by the administration via racist, nationalistic policies. Post-election we will continue holding elected leaders at all levels of government accountable and demand they do the work of promoting justice and love, not hate and fear.”
“The path forward is clearly groups standing together in solidarity with each other,” said Rabbi Mordecai Liebling, faculty member, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. “The divisiveness of rhetoric prior to this election must be put behind us, and the path toward democracy and justice can only be walked arm in arm, leaving no one behind us and elevating no one above us. It is our faith in true democracy that will allow us to move forward.”
In addition to fighting for core values, Faith in Action federations and local groups launched or supported ballot measures in Colorado (to remove slavery from the state constitution and limit interest collected on payday loans), Florida (to restoring voting eligibility), Massachusetts (to raising the minimum wage and ensuring paid family leave- which won prior to election day), Michigan (in reference to redistricting, and to ensure democracy reforms) Missouri (to increase the minimum wage and ensure democracy reforms) and Ohio (to reclassify certain felonies to misdemeanors). We also pushed back on voter suppression in Georgia (by highlighting and toppling barriers to the ballot such as voter purges and polling closures) and Florida (to ensuring ballots be translated in Spanish to accommodate Puerto Ricans displaced after Hurricane Maria).
“As a faith leader, my ministry has focused on those society has made ‘the least of these,’” said the Rev. Cassandra Gould, executive director, Missouri Faith Voices in Kansas City, Missouri. “Over the past several months from church fellowship halls and even sanctuaries across Missouri, we have canvassed, registered and called voters whom others have counted out. Today I voted for amendments, ballot measures and candidates that represent anti-racism policies and economic inclusion for all of God’s children because faith votes.”
“Yet again, our nation is at a possible turning point,” said Hajj Reza Nekumanesh, board member and clergy leader, Faith in the Valley. “Do we remain on the same course or is there hope on our horizon? Our brothers and sisters have tirelessly canvassed, phone banked, and done everything possible to get out the vote. Regardless of outcomes, we know voting was just one step. Now we need to continue the work by engaging those who have been elected to serve us, keeping them accountable to our people. We remain: One People, One Fight!”
LIVE FREE, Faith in Action’s anti-gun violence and mass incarceration campaign, also partnered with Lyft to ensure people without transportation had a ride to and from their polling place.
“In the scripture, we learn that we are many members of one body and every member has a specific purpose,” said Pastor Trena Turner, executive director of Faith in the Valley, and staff pastor at Victory in Praise Church in Stockton, Calif. “Regardless of electoral results, we cannot exclude anyone – we need everyone to accomplish even greater victories than the ones we have seen tonight.”
“Election Day is important, but what’s more important is what happens on Nov. 7,” said Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp, Temple Sholom, and past board chair the AMOS Project in Cincinnati, OH. “In the Jewish tradition, we teach, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?’ (Pirkei Avot 1:14). The election has past but we are compelled to answer to the current moment and to our future as fully as possible.”
Post-election, we are committed to:
- Launching a Census program that ensures communities of color are counted but respects the ways communities of color have been targeted in this country.
- Increasing access to the ballot for students, young people, the elderly, persons with disabilities, returning citizens, communities of color, and poor and working individuals and families.
- Blocking increased funding for detention and deportation of children and families,
- Providing a ministry of witness to families fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the U.S., and
- Blocking the dehumanization of communities through Public Charge.
“Our communities showed up in big way to advocate for change,” said Sukaina Hussain, Lead Organizer, Faith in Fresno. “As a Muslim, I voted as an act of my faith, as an act of love, and an act of justice. We showed up to the polls to demand that our communities are heard and prioritized, immigrants and refugees are welcomed, resources are invested in our communities, and healthcare is available for everyone. No matter who has been elected into office, we will continue to work for our values.”
For more information, contact Jennifer R. Farmer at email@example.com