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BY REV. SHELLEY DONALDSON

July 8, 2019


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The Supreme Court ruled against the citizenship census question, but the Trump Administration won't let it go.
Trump’s justice department has replaced the entire legal team defending a proposed census question about citizenship. - via the New York Times. Such a question would strongly benefit the Republican party by suppressing votes in upcoming elections in areas where there are more undocumented persons and more Democratic-tending voters.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. – Exodus 20:16
For months the justice department’s lawyers defended the census question Is this person a citizen of the United States? They claimed that using this question would enforce the Voting Rights Act to better protect voters of color and voters for whom English isn’t a primary language. But according to documents uncovered by lawyers on the case, this question was never intended to support these voters. It was in fact intended to do the opposite: to suppress these voters and reduce their political power in the voting booth and in the US government. For more background on this issue, check out this NPR article from May.

The change in lawyers signals what many already know: the addition of this manipulative question can’t be defended, because it does the exact opposite of what the Trump administration is arguing it does. The Voting Rights Act, signed into law in 1965 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, came after the marches in Selma and the activism of civil rights leaders fighting against the voter suppression of people of color in southern states. That act was meant to protect people, not target them. 

The motives of Trump and the acting Republicans is clear. They are using fake news and lies that claim to help all US voters and give more accurate census results. They are intentionally bearing false witness to their neighbors in order to keep their brand of Trump’s white supremacy in power.
As people of faith, it is our responsibility to call out and condemn these lies. God’s word is clear to all people that making false claims or any sort of lies towards others is on the top 10 don’t-do list. So, what’s a Christian to do in this situation? 

First, let it be known. It might seem shocking, but many people aren’t even aware of this issue. Put the articles on your social media. Talk to people about it.

Second, call your legislators.

Third, pray. Pray that those bearing false witness to their neighbors are not successful. Pray that the voices of the marginalized are heard loud and clear. Pray that those in power will do the right thing.
God of commandments and truth-telling, hear the voices of your people when we cry out for justice to be done. Give courage to those who are in positions to speak hard and unpopular truths to those in power. Lift the veils off of anyone, anywhere who bears false witness towards your creation. Amen.
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