Interfaith Alliance President Condemns Sen. Hyde-Smith for Using Religion to Oppose Accessible Elections

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For our democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us. And, in 2020, voters across the country turned out in record numbers to have our voices heard and elect leaders who will govern in our name. But in response, some politicians are now working to make it harder to vote by deliberately enacting barriers to thwart voter mobilization in key states.

On March 24, 2021, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith voiced her opposition to measures that would make voting safe and accessible in a hearing on the federal For the People Act, saying, “I can’t speak for Georgia, but I can speak for Mississippi on why we would never have an election on a Sunday.” She added, “Etched in the U.S. Senate chamber is ‘In God We Trust.’ … In God’s word, in Exodus 20:18, it says ‘Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.’” 

In a letter to Sen. Hyde-Smith, Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline strongly condemned her use of a religious justification to oppose Sunday voting the Establishment Clause which prohibits the codification of any one faith into law. Previous attempts to enforce Sunday Sabbath observance, or “Blue Laws,” have historically been rolled back across the country.

Recognizing the diversity of religion, belief, and practice among voters Rabbi Moline added:

“Sunday voting restrictions would arguably negatively impact Christian Georgians most of all. For decades, Black churches have mobilized congregants to vote through Souls to the Polls initiatives. Eliminating this historic and successful tradition of democracy in action only serves to silence Black voters, many of whom already face deliberate tactics to suppress their vote, including strict voter identification laws and harassment at voting sites.” 

Now more than ever, we need our elected officials to live up to their oath to act in service of Americans of all faiths and none. The For the People Act would make the promise of democracy real, wherever we live and however we worship, by making sure that voting options are equally accessible across all fifty states and ensuring that voters pick our leaders – not the other way around. Read Rabbi Moline’s full letter.