Letter: Toward a ‘More Perfect Union’

A Statement on the 2020 Election from the Davis Area Interfaith Religious Leaders Network

Religious communities promote and protect our democracy

The religious traditions we represent are born of visions and values for human life that inspire our strong advocacy of American democracy. Over the centuries our people have offered creative insights and energies to help our nation move toward “a more perfect union.” We believe that a thriving democracy is essential to ensure that all persons are not only “created equal,” but are treated equally and welcomed to contribute to the creation of a society where “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable rights” for everyone, without exception.

Our democracy faces many challenges

This fall, many Americans feel anxious about the future of our democracy. Our long tradition of absentee and mail-in voting has been maligned. Foreign powers are maliciously influencing the election. Voters are challenged and often intimidated at the voting booth. And we face the likelihood of an unprecedented delay in receiving the final election results. We are at a critical moment in American history. We feel many things: concern, confusion, helplessness, anger, and reactivity.

We summon our communities to involvement

As leaders and representatives of Davis-area religious communities we affirm our nation’s commitment to the separation of church and state. But we will not relinquish our role as independent and non-partisan voices, calling our nation to rise toward higher moral and political ground than we’ve known recently. Further, we draw now upon our spiritual visions and values as we summon our faith communities to full involvement in our democratic process.

What you can do now

We urge our communities to vote, pray for our nation, build bridges between us, remain calm in the face of conflict, practice non-violence, work for the common good, and demand that our political leaders, through whatever means are necessary, support and protect a fair and free election process, and ensure every vote is counted. These commitments are not partisan; they are deeply patriotic. They are integral to our common religious values of equality, justice, and the promotion of the sacred dignity of every human person.

Our network supports solidarity near and far

As we look toward and beyond November 3, 2020, we, as a religious coalition, are strengthening our network. No one knows what lies before us politically. And so, our network is working now to foster the kind of local solidarity, stability, and plans for action that will help us all contribute constructively to the democratic future of our city, state, and nation.

Fear is real but need not render us passive

We acknowledge that there are things to be afraid of. Anxieties are not unwarranted. A shift toward an authoritarian state, the meddling of foreign powers, the infringement of voter’s rights, are all of grave concern. In addition, it’s essential that each of us acknowledge the emotional and physical effects of the compounding crises we’re experiencing. Hold to your faith. Draw upon all that is good in you and in others. Care for yourself and your neighbor. Remain vigilant in doing good.

Let us rise and carry each other toward a “more perfect union”

We Americans are still shaping the democratic vision born on our soil in the latter part of the eighteenth century. It isn’t perfect. It’s still growing. It faces serious challenges today. But we believe our nation’s best days are before us. And we believe that we are all called by our common humanity to help guide our nation toward a “more perfect union”—yet unrealized—a union that requires each of us to help carry it one more step toward what it can still be.

Be strong. Be kind. Stay together. We can do hard things.


Brandon Austin, Pastor, Davis United Methodist

Beth Banks, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church

Seth Castleman, Rabbi, Mindful Moment Meditation

Pamela Dolan, Rector, Episcopal Church of St. Martin

The Rev. Casey Kloehn Dunsworth, Pastor, The Belfry Lutheran Episcopal Campus Ministry

Erin Edwards, Pastor, Live On Purpose Community Church

Hamza El-Nakhal, Coordinator for Muslim DEIN

Eunbee Ham, Pastor, Davis Community Church

Anne Kjemtrup, Coordinator for Muslim DEIN

Chris Neufeld Erdman, Pastor, Davis Community Church

Daniel Smith, Lutheran, Pastor, Church of the Incarnation

Sara Tillema, Director and Campus Minister, Cal Aggie Christian Association

Greg Wolfe, Rabbi, Congregation Bet Haverim

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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