COLUMBUS, Ohio — Faith in Public Life is a group of faith leaders that have come together to bring peace and protection to the polls.
What You Need To Know
- Friday is National Early Voting Day
- Faith in Public Life started in 2020, ahead of the presidential election
- Clergy, social workers and volunteers make up the group's peacekeepers
- Peacekeepers are taught about voting logistics and de-escalation tactics
- There are more than 75 peacekeepers dispersed through the state
Rev. Dan Clark said that the initiative started in response to seeing an increase in hate speech, voter suppression and intimidation ahead of the 2020 election. “We saw some protesters screaming some nasty things at voters outside of (the) Board of Elections in 2020 and just to have someone standing with you, helping you stay strong and stay in line to vote made a difference,” said Clark.
Ahead of the November election, faith leaders gathered to pray for peace and fairness. They walked from Trinity Episcopal Church to the office of Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Amina Barhumi, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio, said that their work doesn’t just stop at prayer. “We combine the work to ensure that folks show up to the polls and that they are protected and we continue to do the work to make sure that the marginalized community members are showing up and they’re supported,” said Barhumi.
Clark said that clergy, social workers and volunteers will be acting as peacekeepers during the election season. They learn voting logistics and de-escalation tactics to ensure every voter feels safe and protected. “Faith leaders from all different faiths really want to come together and keep peace and offer a ministry of presence so that people can confidently participate in that sacred task of voting,” said Clark.
Faith in Public hasn’t seen any voter suppression or intimidation in Ohio so far, but they are prepared to see large numbers voting this weekend and have over 75 peacekeepers dispersed throughout the state.