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Coalition of churches condemns SCOTUS decision on Alabama’s new congressional maps

Faith in Action Alabama on March 25 is to unveil the group’s plan to address voting rights.

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Leaders of a statewide faith-based coalition say the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing Alabama’s new Republican-drawn congressional maps to stand will disenfranchise Black Alabamians. 

Faith in Action Alabama, a group of 40 congregations in Mobile, Montgomery, Huntsville and Birmingham that works to dismantle systemic racism, is to hold an event on March 25 in which the group is to release its agenda on voting rights, according to a press release. 

The Supreme Court’s decision leaves Alabama’s new congressional maps in place while it reviews a legal challenge, overturning a lower court’s ruling that the maps likely violate the Voting Rights Act. 

Those 2021 maps drawn by Republicans in Alabama maintain just one majority-minority congressional district, which plaintiffs in the case argue is discriminatory to Black voters. Black people make up 27 percent of the Alabama population, yet Alabama’s new maps maintain a 14-percent minority representation, according to the most recent census figures 

“As people united in faith, we have a responsibility to answer the moral clarion call that is the voting rights movement,” Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton of the Fifth District of the CME Church and chair of the Governing Board of National Council of Churches said in a statement.  “Redistricting that marginalizes black and brown voters is direct evidence that our democracy is at stake. The Supreme Court’s ruling upholding gerrymandering in Alabama reinforces the need to fully and permanently guarantee civil rights for all Americans.”

Bishop George Crenshaw of the AL-FL District of the AME Zion District said that as a Black pastor in the south, he’s seen firsthand the positive impact of faith-based organizing. 

“The Supreme Court’s latest ruling on Alabama’s congressional redistricting is clearly backlash to the strides we have made in recent years,” Crenshaw said. 

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 “We’ve long been pushing for fair and just access at the ballot box. Last spring, we urged Gov. Ivey to withdraw HB 445 so the SCOTUS ruling is just another tactic that we’re up against to ensure all Alabamans can cast a vote,” Harry Seawright of the 9th District of the AME District said in a statement. 

 Dr. A.B. Sutton, Jr., chairperson of Faith in Action Alabama’s Board of the Directors, said they are seeing barriers put in place to make it harder for Black people to vote, especially across the south. 

“All these political moves to oppress the vote is the modern-day version of asking folks how many bubbles are in a bar of soap in order to gain the right to vote,” Sutton said. 

 “We’re disheartened that SCOTUS has sided with Alabama officials that seek to undermine democracy and create the space to politically silence the voice of African American Alabamians,” Daniel Schwartz, executive director of Faith in Action Alabama, said in a statement. “This redistricting plan highlights efforts by Alabama’s Republican controlled committee to oppress voters rather than expand democracy. Redistricting, voter ID laws, and felony disenfranchisement are a collection of sinister efforts in Alabama to blunt the democratic voice of Alabama’s Black community.

 “Let’s be clear – this antidemocratic agenda is Pharaoh seeking to find new ways to block the honoring of all. But we are committed, with our allies, to bring praise, honor, glory to God of Liberation through helping ensure the voices, cries, and dreams are honored throughout Alabama,” Schwartz continued. “Faith in Action Alabama is committed to working at the grassroots level and in the halls of power to help honor to create a thriving democracy throughout Alabama, across race and zip code lines. We are working with allies to remove barriers to voting faced by formerly incarcerated Alabamians and will move a robust voter engagement campaign leading up to this year’s November.”

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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