The Mercy of Participation in Democracy
Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM
March 22, 2023
Readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent:
Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Following the 2020 election, Donald Trump claimed that 5,000 dead people voted in Georgia. The actual number turned out to be four, all involving family members of deceased relatives. The reason that someone would complain about this practice is that it’s against the law. Dead people don’t vote; only the living have voting rights.
The real problem in the U.S. is that restrictive voting laws have gutted voting rights across the country, disproportionately blocking Black and Brown citizens from exercising their right to vote. Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, at least 25 states have enacted some form of restrictive voting laws limiting early voting, purging voter rolls, enacting strict voter ID laws, and regulating mail-in voting and the placement of drop boxes.
Under such restrictive laws, their vote is as good as dead.
The readings for this Sunday of Lent offer hope, with God proclaiming, “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” This is exactly the spirit of the multi-faith, justice-seeking push to restore voting rights across the U.S. and enshrine these protections into federal law. The Psalmist reminds us that “With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” That is why restoring voting rights is not only just, but godly.
And the Gospel reading, with Jesus dramatically raising his friend Lazarus from the grave, also reminds us of an important detail: When we open this tomb, we will confront a stench. The racist policies and attitudes that pervade our politics and hold us down are noxious, and we must be prepared for them. But like Jesus, we have the faith to raise our voices and demand that those who have been excluded from full participation in our democracy return to the land of the living.
NETWORK’s three-part series on voting rights by Joan F. Neal:
- Theology of Voting: Participation in Democracy as a Christian Value (Sept. 2, 2022)
- Theology of Voting: The Right to Vote is a Sacred Right (Sept. 6, 2022)
- Theology of Voting: Our Vote is Our Voice (Sept. 9, 2022)Return to Lent 2023