THE BLOG

Why We Can't Wait: The Future of the US Democracy

07/18/2013 07:37 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2013

As Christian faith leaders, two of our deepest values are love and justice. Informed by our Christian heritage and legacy of our shared histories in pursuit of a more perfect union, we know our nation is deeply enriched by the inclusion of a great mosaic of people in our democracy. Our eyes are on the prize of a democracy that reflects the universal principles of love and justice. However, two recent developments in our national landscape have called us to speak-up about the direction of our shared democracy.

Just weeks ago, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has been the shield that has protected the rights of racial-ethnic minorities to vote against state efforts to discriminatorily limit their voting strength. Several of the nine states that were previously covered by the requirement have begun to implement changes in voting procedures, such as restrictive voter ID laws, that will negatively impact, and potentially disenfranchise, Americans in the communities we serve. We should build bridges, not hurdles to the voting process. As we approach the 50th year of the March on Washington and Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington D.C., the present initiatives around the country to restrict voting rights are a retreat from the promise of that dream.

The Supreme Court noted that Congress "may draft another formula based on current conditions." The time has come for action, and we collectively urge our legislators to fix Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to ensure that no citizen is discouraged or hindered from voting. The right to vote is an indelible mark of our democracy and many faith leaders fought tirelessly to ensure that it is never hampered, hindered, or endangered. Our legislators must keep their eyes on the prize of an inclusive democracy and be vigilant in their steps to achieve it.

Similarly, the delay on immigration reform threatens our progress toward the prize. After more than a decade of bi-partisan proposals, comprehensive solutions threatened to be stalled again. Just this week, some in the House of Representatives argued that now is not the time for comprehensive and common-sense immigration reform. As faith leaders, we are deeply concerned about the pretense of progress on this important matter in our nation's history.

Both Republican and Democratic presidents advocate for immigration reform. The Senate's gang-of-eight proposal had overwhelming bi-partisan support. We remain prayerful for real bi-partisan leadership in the House that includes an earned path to citizenship. Our democracy deserves better than the incessant delays. These are the lives of real people, many of whom are women and children. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "Justice delayed is often justice denied."

Today, we stand together as Latino and African-American faith leaders with our eyes on the prize of an inclusive democracy, and committed to laws and policies that reflect the truth that all people are created equal. Our nation is an "inescapable network of mutuality," and laws that marginalize or disenfranchise any of us hurt all of us. Our communities of faith call for a fix to the Voting Rights Act and for common-sense comprehensive immigration reform now.

Signed,

The Rev. Gabriel Salguero

The Rev. Delman Coates, Ph.D.
Rev. Luis Alba, Lead Pastor, Iglesia Cantico Nuevo, (El Paso, Texas)

Rev. Dr. Lawrence Aker, Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church (Brooklyn, NY)

Rev. Dr. Anthony Bennett, Senior Pastor, Mt. Aery Baptist Church, (Bridgeport, CT)

Rev. Felix Cabrera, Pastor, Quail Springs Baptist Church (Oklahoma City, OK)

Rev. Leslie Callahan Ph.D., Senior Pastor, St. Paul’s Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA)

Rev. Dr. Michael Carrion, Senior Pastor, Promised Land Covenant Church (Bronx, NY)

Rev. Dr. Anthony Chandler, Senior Pastor, Cedar Street Baptist Church (Richmond, VA)

Rev. Walter Contreras, West Coast Vice President, NaLEC, (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)

Rev. Wayne Croft, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, St. Paul’s Baptist Church (West Chester, PA)

Rev. Kendrick Curry, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Pennsylvania Ave. Baptist Church (Washington, DC)

Rev. Richard Del Rio, Lead Pastor, Abounding Grace, (New York, NY)

Rev. Reinaldo Diaz, Love Gospel Assembly, (Bronx, NY)

Rev. John Faison, Senior Pastor, Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church (Nashville, TN)

Rev. Luis A. Figueroa, Lead Pastor, House of Miracles Assembly of God, (Staten Island, NY)

Rev. Sterling Freeman, Senior Pastor, First Missionary Baptist Church (Smithfield, NC)

Rev. David Goatley, Ph.D., Executive Director, Lott Carey International (Washington, DC)

Rev. Dr. Charles Goodman, Senior Pastor, Tabernacle Baptist Church (Augusta, GA)

Rev. Dr. Darrell Griffin, Senior Pastor, Oakdale Community Church (Chicago, IL)

Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church (Decatur, GA)

Rev. Dr. Charles Hames, Senior Pastor, Beebe Memorial Cathedral (Oakland, CA)

Rev. Dr. Lora Hargrove, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church (Rockville, MD)

Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, Senior Pastor, Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (Washington, DC)

Rev. Forrest Harris, Ph.D., President, American Baptist College (Nashville, TN)

Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes, Senior Pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church (Dallas, TX)

Rev. Dr. James Jackson, Senior Pastor, New Beginnings Fellowship Church (Indianapolis,IN)

Rev. Kevin Johnson, Ed.D., Senior Pastor, Bright Hope Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA)

Bishop Jose Lopez, Iglesias Hispana, (Philadelphia, PA)

Rev. Steven Lozada Associate Pastor, Templo El Refugio (Bethlehem, PA)

Rev. Gabriel Mejia, Lead Pastor, New Birth Assembly of God, (Orlando, Fl)

Rev. Marvin McMickle, Ph.D., President, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (Rochester, NY)

Rev. Marlon Millner, Senior Pastor, McKinley Memorial Baptist Church, (Willow Grove, PA)

Rev. Dr. Lester McCorn, Senior Pastor, Pennsylvania Ave. AME Zion Church (Baltimore, MD)

Rev. Donald Morton, Ph.D., Lead Pastor, Perfected Life Church (Wilmington, DE)

Rev. Dana Owens, Senior Pastor, Messiah Baptist Church (East Orange, NJ)

Rev. Keyon Payton, Senior Pastor, New Bethel Baptist Church (Pontiac, MI)

Rev. Dr. Elizabeth D. Rios Executive Pastor / Founder, Save The Nations / Center for Emerging Female Leadership (Davie, FL)

Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera, President, LPAC, (Bronx, NY)

Rev. Joshua Rodriguez, Senior Pastor, The Cityline (Jersey City, NJ)

Bishop, Jonathan Roque, Bishop, Damascus Christian Churches, (Bronx, NY)

Rev. Dr. Timothy Sloan, Senior Pastor, St. Luke Baptist Church (Humble, TX)

Rev. Dr. Campbell Singleton, Senior Pastor, Union Baptist Church (Montclair, NJ)

Rev. Dr. Stacy Spencer, Senior Pastor, New Direction Christian Church (Memphis, TN)

Rev. Dr. Gina Stewart, Senior Pastor, Christ Missionary Baptist Church (Memphis, TN)

Rev. Jacqueline Tavarez, President, Raleigh Hispanic Clergy, (Raleigh, NC)

Rev. Dr. Frank Thomas, Author and Professor (Memphis, TN)

Rev. Tyrone Thomas, Senior Pastor, Charity Community Church of God, (Baltimore, MD)
Rev. Javier Torres, Church Chairman Ethnic Ministry, CRC in North American Council (Orlando FL)

Bishop, Harry Joel Torres, President Hispanic Clergy Philadelphia/Delaware Valley, (Fairless Hills, PA)

Rev. Luis Torres, Lead Pastor, Assemblies of God Bayshore, (Bayshore, NY)

Rev. Raphael Warnock, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA)

Rev. Dr. Lance Watson, Senior Pastor, St. Paul’s Baptist Church (Richmond, VA)

Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, Senior Pastor, Alfred Street Baptist Church (Alexandria, VA)

Rev. Dr. Christine Wiley, Co-Pastor, Covenant Baptist Church (Washington, DC)

Rev. Roger Williams, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Glen Cove (Long Island, NY)

Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair, National African-American Clergy Network (DC)

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor Emeritus, Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago, IL)

Rev. Dr. Todd Yeary, Senior Pastor, Douglas Memorial Community Church (Baltimore, MD)