'Souls to the Polls': Clergy group promotes voting
A group of preachers and pastors associated with northeast metro area churches aim to encourage voter turnout with a series of activities leading up to the general election on Nov. 8.
Members of the Concerned Clergy for Spiritual Renewal spoke about "Empowerment Sunday" and a host of other activities at a news conference on Thursday at Fairview Baptist Church, 1700 NE 7.
The group, led by the Rev. J.A. Reed, senior pastor of Fairview, said individual churches have held voter education events and gatherings in the last several weeks because the Nov. 8 election is critical.
Reed said churches affiliated with the Concerned Clergy would be focusing on the importance of voting and voter education on Sunday, Oct. 30, which the group has declared as "Empowerment Sunday: Get Out and Vote."
He said the group is encouraging churches around the state to rally people to vote regardless of their political affiliation, socioeconomic status or race.
"We just want people to get out and vote," Reed said. "And we want our children to know the value of voting."
The group said the Nov. 8 election is important for several reasons, including:
- The legislative and Supreme Court justice seats at stake;
- The racial tensions between police departments and black communities, resulting in friction surrounding the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements;
- Uninsured and the under-insured individuals in need;
- Current unemployment rates;
- Ongoing threats of terrorism from groups like ISIS and Al-Quaeda;
- Issues dealing with the current state of the economy and trade;
- Many millennials are disillusioned with current political campaign climate and are undecided about who to vote for.
Reed said Concerned Clergy-affiliated churches planned to have their buses and vans available on Nov. 8 to provide transportation for people who need assistance getting to the polls.
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Also, the group said they are encouraging people to vote early, particularly utilizing the early voting time period at county election boards.
They said a "Souls to the Polls" gathering is set for Nov. 5 at Mount Olive Baptist Church. Rev. M.L. Jemison, senior pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, said people are encouraged to gather at the church, 1020 NE 42, to march to the Oklahoma County Election Board, 4201 Lincoln Blvd., to be part of the early voting process.
Meanwhile, Reed and about 15 other clergy leaders were joined by several state legislators at Thursday's news conference. State Sen. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, and State Rep. George Young, D-Oklahoma City.
Pittman said a brief "Souls to the Polls" program would begin about 9:30 a.m. Nov. 5 at Mount Olive, and the walk would begin about 10 a.m.