Because the Senate convenes a listening to, greater than 300 non secular leaders declare their assist for DC statehood

WASHINGTON (RNS) – More than 300 religious leaders and heads of prominent religious organizations signed a letter to the Senate leadership on Tuesday, June 22nd, in support of a call to make Washington, DC, a state and religious leadership of the growing democratic leadership To give support to effort.

“As clergy and faith leaders from across the nation, we write our strong support for bringing full equality in our nation to the 700,000 residents of Washington, DC,” the letter said. “Voting and representation are sacred rights that should not be denied. We support DC statehood, a cause that represents the highest values ​​of our country, and demand a swift hearing and passage of p. 51, the Washington, DC Admission Act. “

The letter came on the same day that lawmakers convened the first Senate hearing since 2014 to examine the possibility of making much of the country’s capital the 51st state. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser testified at the nearly three-hour hearing and later tweeted a picture of her swearing-in with the caption: “Prayerfully I will be the last DC Mayor to demand what is our birthright and what we owe.” For us as taxpayers – full citizenship and full democracy. “

RELATED: From Filibuster to DC Statehood: Clerics rally around a growing voting agenda

The House of Representatives passed the statehood bill back in April but is facing major difficulties in the Senate: it has yet to secure the support of all Democrats and will likely require the elimination of the filibuster – something Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia did and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona has spoken out against it.

Even so, religious leaders argued in their letter that the vote should only require a simple majority, “as has been the case for 37 states in our nation’s history.” They found Washington has more residents than Vermont or Wyoming, and pointed out that “cops who defended the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection have no representation in Congress that they risked their lives to protect.”

DC’s lack of electoral representation in Congress was “unfortunately rooted in racial discrimination,” they argued, insisting that “the historical record is full of those who have opposed DC residents’ suffrage on explicitly racial grounds.”

The letter presented statehood as a matter of belief and quoted the late Georgia Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis: “The civil rights movement was based on belief.”

“As religious leaders, we will stand up, speak and protest against the disenfranchisement of DC residents,” the letter reads.

One of the most notable signatories to the letter is James Winkler, chairman of the National Council of Churches. The NCC is a historic organization that unites “a diverse alliance of 38 member communities” representing approximately 40 million people and a wide range of faith groups such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church includes (USA), Progressive National Baptist Convention and various Orthodox traditions.

Other national signatories included Sandra Sorensen, director of the Washington office of the United Church of Christ; Sheila Katz, chairwoman of the National Council of Jewish Women; Pablo DeJesus, executive director of the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice; Marie Dennis, Senior Advisor to the Secretary General of Pax Christi International; and Diane Randall, chairman of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Effort organizers found signatories from 35 states and a variety of faiths, but many call Washington home, such as Pastor Patricia Fears of Fellowship Baptist Church; Pastor Donald Isaac of the Southeast Tabernacle Baptist Church; Pastor Reginald Farmer of the True Gospel Tabernacle Baptist Church; the Rev. Ben Roberts of Foundry United Methodist Church; and Rev. Gini Gerbasi of St. John’s Church in Georgetown, who was among the protesters who were forcibly evicted from the eponymous St. John’s Church in downtown DC shortly before then-President Donald Trump’s June 2020 Bible photocall .

Some, like Fears, have already spoken out in favor of DC statehood, a cause often cited as part of a growing suffrage agenda represented by a variety of faith groups, particularly black church leaders.

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