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Black religious sisters release new voting rights statement alongside LCWR

The National Black Sisters' Conference has once again spoken out in support of voting rights protections currently stalled in the Senate.

The National Black Sisters’ Conference and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious have issued a joint statement in support of voting rights legislation, their second since last summer.

Entitled “The Sacred Right to Vote”, it was published on Sunday evening just before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We underscore Dr. King’s premise that all people have the right to dignity and the duty to participate fully in our democracy, no matter their race, background, or zip code,” the statement reads.

“Today, that right is threatened by those who seek to make voting more difficult and elected officials less accountable.”

Full statement from the NBSC and LCWR.

The statement is in support of the Senate action beginning today that seeks to combine the two existing voting rights bills passed by the House—the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—into a new bill that could bypass a filibuster.

The plan seeks to undo recent Republican legislation introducing voting restrictions in state governments across the country, usually affecting African-American and other underserved communities that tend to vote Democrat.

Last month, the Brennan Center for Justice reported that at least 19 states passed a total of 34 laws restricting voting rights during the year 2021. More than 440 bills containing such provisions were introduced, spanning 49 states. 13 more bills are expected in four states early this year.

The sisters’ previously released a statement in support of a voting rights bill proposed last year, but that legislation has thus far been dead in the water due to Republican opposition—as well as support for the filibuster from Blue Dog Democrats such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

The new strategy supported by more progressive Democrats, including both of the Black Catholics in Congress, is likely to face similar obstacles.

“The promissory note that Dr. King spoke about in his “I Have a Dream” speech has yet to be fully redeemed,” the sisters say in their new statement.

“As Catholic sisters committed to serving the common good and building a more perfect union, we call on the Senate to do everything within its power to strengthen our democracy and protect every person’s sacred right to vote.”

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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