State faith leaders concerned over election bill


By Trevor Hubert - thubert@limanews.com



Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr. called on Ohio’s state legislatures to reject a series of proposed bills that could restrict voting access and the right to protest.

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr. called on Ohio’s state legislatures to reject a series of proposed bills that could restrict voting access and the right to protest.


Trevor Hubert | The Lima News

Rev. Joan Van Becelare talked about the need for fair redistricting and voting processes to solve Ohio’s systemic issues.

Rev. Joan Van Becelare talked about the need for fair redistricting and voting processes to solve Ohio’s systemic issues.


Trevor Hubert | The Lima News

LIMA — The Ohio Council of Churches gathered in Lima on Thursday to address their concerns with several proposed bills within the Ohio legislature.

The petition, which has been signed by 300 religious leaders from across the state, urges Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp to stop the passage of three specific bills. The primary focus was on House Bill 294, which state Republicans have advertised as a bill to strengthen election security. Opponents of the bill believe it to be an act of voter suppression, saying that the bill would restrict access to voting and reduce the number of ballot boxes in the state.

The other bills in question, HB22 and SB16, are seen by the council as a means of silencing the right to protest.

“We want (legislators) to understand that the faith communities across Ohio are in solidarity with respect to our concern for justice and fairness,” said Ohio Council of Churches Executive Director Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr. “We want these bills to be turned back, and for our lawmakers to go back to the drawing board and design something that ensures that we have broader access to ballot boxes, and that people who have dissenting points of view can make their views known without being penalized or criminalized.”

Other speakers at the event, like Ohio Director for Faith and Public Life Rev. Dan Clark, didn’t mince words, calling the bills “modern Jim Crow laws” and stressing the need to “stop our country’s descent into white supremacist tyranny.”

“We must work together across race, place, gender and class to make sure that everyone can exercise their freedom to vote,” Clark said. “This requires defeating these restrictive barriers, passing laws that make voting safe and accessible for all, then, making sure every person knows that the freedom to vote is a fundamental moral issues for the faith community.”

The concerns for Ohio’s faith leaders come at the same time the state is focused on drawing new district maps, which are expected to be released within the next two weeks. Speaker Cupp addressed the need for drawing fair district lines at the committee hearing in Lima last Friday. Council members expressed their worries over how fair those districts might end up being.

“Our democracy also requires an equitable and fair redistricting process to result in fair election maps to effectively address the many serious social justice issues we face today,” said Rev. Joan Van Becelare, Director of Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio. “We need a strong democratic process here in Ohio and across the nation.”

The Ohio legislature is expected to reconvene on September 7.

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr. called on Ohio’s state legislatures to reject a series of proposed bills that could restrict voting access and the right to protest.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/09/web1_Voting1.jpgRev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr. called on Ohio’s state legislatures to reject a series of proposed bills that could restrict voting access and the right to protest. Trevor Hubert | The Lima News
Rev. Joan Van Becelare talked about the need for fair redistricting and voting processes to solve Ohio’s systemic issues.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/09/web1_Voting2.jpgRev. Joan Van Becelare talked about the need for fair redistricting and voting processes to solve Ohio’s systemic issues. Trevor Hubert | The Lima News

By Trevor Hubert

thubert@limanews.com

Reach Trevor Hubert at 567-242-0398

Reach Trevor Hubert at 567-242-0398

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