For Members of Ezekiel AME Zion Church in North Carolina, Voting Is A Roadmap To Freedom

A voter casts his ballot during early voting at the Beatties Ford Library in Charlotte, North Carolina October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
A voter casts his ballot during early voting at the Beatties Ford Library in Charlotte, North Carolina October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane

In the pulpit of Ezekiel AME Zion Church, Rev. Allen Stimpson kneels.

“We thank you for giving us a wonderful president,” the reverend says during prayer on Sunday morning, adding that as “we face a new era,” he prays everyone will “make the right choice.”

Election Day is approaching, and Stimpson, like many other black pastors, is making sure members of his congregation have the tools they need to get out and cast a ballot.

Many Americans find political as well as spiritual guidance in their places of worship, with faith often determining how people view issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. In the black church, though, the connection between faith and politics is especially intimate, particularly when it comes time to vote. It isn’t just about the issues ― it’s about black folks getting out and voting for whomever we believe is going to recognize our humanity.

“We paid a dear price for the freedom to vote and, had it not been for [that] freedom, we’d still be in shackles,” Stimpson, 64, told The Huffington Post.

“The role of the church is to inform the people about who the candidates are and making sure they’re able to get to the polls,” he continued. “We do not tell them how to vote, but we just make sure all the issues are on the table ― the issues that affect the church [and] affect the community.”

Uplifting civil rights is in the blood of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Often called “The Freedom Church,” the denomination was born when black Christians fled mixed congregations to form their own sanctuaries. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass are well-known freedom fighters who called the church home.

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Source: Black Voices | Julia Craven