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Religious coalition joins fight against Minnesota’s voting amendment

A coalition of faith groups  promised to engage 50,000 religious voters before November in the uphill fight against the ballot question.

A coalition of faith groups on Thursday joined the main campaign opposing the voter amendment and promised to engage 50,000 religious voters before November in the uphill fight against the ballot question.

The statewide network of faith leaders and congregations, known as Prophetic Voices, includes Jewish, Muslim and Christian members. The religious coalition said it’s incumbent on people of faith to oppose the voting ballot question because it could disenfranchise at-risk voters, such as the poor, elderly, students and the disabled.

“We are working together to build a movement of people of faith in Minnesota who are committed to working for racial and economic justice, but our most urgent work in the coming months is to work together to educate and organize … religious voters in Minnesota to vote no on the voter restriction amendment,” said Doran Schrantz, executive director of ISAIAH, which is part of the effort.

“Other people will not say it as clear and concise as I will,” said the Rev. Jerry McAfee, president of the Minnesota State Baptist Convention. “It is my opinion that voter suppression and voter restriction is shrouded in racism.”

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The groups expect to employ typical campaign tactics — phone banks, door-knocking and direct mailings — but will also host forums following religious services. Schrantz said direct contact between religious leaders and their congregants offer a unique opportunity to sway voters because they’re in a comfortable place.

Schrantz didn’t offer up a specific budget or spending target for the initiative but said member groups would offer in-kind services and existing resources would be repurposed. The coalition is partnering with the established Our Vote Our Future campaign, which is the main force opposing the amendment.

“This is too important to not address,” she said.

It’s unclear for now how the marriage amendment, which is heavily backed by Catholic organizations, will interplay with these religious groups’ efforts, but Schrantz said she doesn’t foresee a huge interaction.

“Churches and congregations and different denominations are in different places around the question of both amendments,” she said. “Churches and congregations are making their own decisions about how the interplay does or does not work in their congregations … what we’re working on is the voter restriction amendment … the organizations represented here have that in common.”