Of all the examples of how Republicans are trying to curtail the right to vote — especially if it puts more obstacles in the way of Black voters — the most obvious and egregious one came from Georgia, where legislators pushed a bill that would’ve prevented early voting on Sundays before an election.
As NPR explained, this was hardly coincidental. Many Black churches hold events where they go vote directly after services. Those events are called “Souls to the Polls.” By blocking Sunday voting, it would effectively put an unnecessary barrier in front of those voters.
“We gather in our churches on Sunday morning, you have morning worship and then after the service you get on the church buses, church vans, get in cars and people go to vote,” says Bishop Reginald T. Jackson of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Jackson is the presiding prelate over more than 500 churches in Georgia.
Republicans have since backed off of that proposal.
But during a Senate hearing this morning, Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who joked about lynching during her recent re-election campaign, argued that there was nothing racist about stopping people from voting on Sunday because we just needed to follow her God’s rules.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith defends preventing people from voting on Sunday, because God pic.twitter.com/69tYzgi4jU
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2021
… Sen. Schumer’s question was — he was wondering why, on Sundays, Georgia would not participate in an electoral process of gathering signatures, registration, and things on Sunday, and I would just like to respond to that: Georgia is a Southern state just like Mississippi. I cannot speak for Georgia, but I can speak for Mississippi on why we would never do that on a Sunday, or hold an election on a Sunday.
You know, this is our currency. This is a dollar bill. This says the United States of America, “In God We Trust.” Etched in stone in the U.S. Senate chamber is “In God We Trust.” When you swore in all of these witnesses, the last thing you said to them in your instructions was “So Help You God.”
In God’s Word, in Exodus 20:18, it says “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” So that is my response to Senator Schumer…
In other words, Christian Nationalists shoved religious phrases on money and in buildings and in oaths… therefore anything that makes voting more convenient, especially for Black people, should be stopped. If that makes sense to you, congratulations on earning your Racism Merit Badge.
By the way, Sabbath in the Bible is generally considered to be on Saturday, not Sunday.
And Exodus 20:18 says, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance”… She must have intended to say Exodus 20:8.
Also, Hyde-Smith had no problem getting sworn into office on a Sunday.
Also, as Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service points out, Hyde-Smith seems to be implying that the Black people who vote on Sundays after church are somehow not sufficiently Christian.
Mississippi is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to voting rights. It’s hardly the model anyone else ought to be following. Hyde-Smith of all people, who said in 2018 that it would be a “great idea” if we made it “just a little more difficult” for college students to vote, should never be a spokesperson for election integrity.
(Featured screenshot via YouTube)