~ by Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report
An Illinois-based religious congregation is calling for more citizen engagement and vigilance after the U.S. Senate failed last week to approve legislation to protect voting rights.
A number of states have “passed legislation that, in practice, reduces citizen access to the polls. This week our federal legislature has failed in an attempt to protect voter access and the constitutional rights of every citizen,” the Dominican Sisters of Springfield said in a January 20 statement, the day after the Senate failed to approve two voting rights bills.
Our partnership with men and women of color has taught us that those on the margins are the first to lose this access when our democracy fails,” the Dominican Sisters said in their statement.
“As members of a religious order founded on the principles of democracy 800 years ago, we Dominican Sisters of Springfield have particular concern for what is transpiring in our nation. We believe once the rights of any citizen are endangered the rights of all citizens are endangered.”
In the face of that, the congregation said, “We appeal to all citizens of this nation to engage in conversation with their state and federal legislators. It is essential that every citizen be vigilant about what is happening at the state level and proactive in demanding the protection of this sacred human right wherever it is endangered.”
Before the heated Senate debate about the legislation, the Leadership Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters aligned itself behind the bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
In a statement issued January 17th, the national day of commemoration honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King, the congregation said it supports legislation “ensuring that all citizens of voting age are free to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”
“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. It should not be dependent on political party, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, or economic status,” the statement said.
A similar joint statement was issued the day before the national holiday by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), and the National Black Sisters’ Conference. That January 16 statement said that the “sacred right to vote” is threatened “by those who seek to make voting more difficult and elected officials less accountable.” The statement said that the legislation would “ensure that voters can safely and freely cast their ballots, protect against election sabotage, stop partisan gerrymandering, and limit the influence of dark money in politics.”