Faith Communities: Take Action
"We are not the owners of creation, but its stewards, summoned by God to ‘watch over and care for it.”– Genesis 2:15
The call to promote justice, compassion, and equality plays a key role in many religions today. Engaging members in the civic life of their communities helps fulfill that call.
Democracy North Carolina can be a resource for faith communities seeking to engage their members in civic causes because, as a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization, we do not coordinate with political candidates or parties. We can help you with voter registration drives, basic voter education, civic engagement, ex-felon enfranchisement efforts, issue campaigns and other initiatives.
In the past, we have worked with churches, mosques, temples and synagogues by conducting workshops and providing materials for distribution to their congregations, including voter registration forms, commitment cards people can use to pledge to vote, a Voter's Bill of Rights, a brochure on voting rights featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes, and a flyer on Same Day Registration & Voting.
While many churches were active in 2008 registering new voters, voter registration is not the only arena where the interests of Democracy NC coincide with those of many faith communities. Much of what we do relates to empowering all people and creating a world where everyone is respected and provided with equal opportunities in life. For example, our focus on campaign finance reform helps keep special interest dollars from dominating elections and shutting out the economically disadvantaged. Our work regarding ethics and lobbying reform helps close loopholes that allow well-funded lobbyists and their clients from gaining advantages at the expense of the powerless. And our efforts to get more people to vote and to run for office – especially people from underrepresented groups – help bring often overlooked legislative issues to the table that can result in better housing, health care, environmental protection, and education for all; and social and economic justice. If these issues concern you, we welcome your partnership. Together, we can:
- End low voter turnout and motivate the millions of eligible North Carolina citizens who do not bother to vote to go to the polls.
- Implement public campaign financing and eliminate the need for costly, big money donor-funded campaigns that shut out all too many qualified people.
- Enact ethics and lobbying reform to keep special interests from shaping state law.
- Pursue other reforms to ensure that all people have an equal chance at being heard.
If you represent a faith community with goals that overlap with ours, please call our Associate Director, Jenn Frye, at 1-888-687-8683 ext. 15 or email her at email@example.com.
Faith communities interested in promoting voter participation can engage in a number of activities without violating their charters. Even if you are structured as a 501(c)(3), as a church or faith-based organization you can:
- Register new voters. Simply obtain voter registration forms and instructions from your local board of elections or call us at 919-286-6000 for more information. You may insert registration forms into your programs or hand them out at a service, as long as you are not advocating a specific political affiliation or promoting candidates. Remember that all forms must be postmarked or turned into the board of elections at least 25 days before the election. After that deadline has passed, you can still encourage new voter registrations by steering people toward Same Day Registration & Voting during the Early Voting period. For more information on voter registration, there is an excellent on-line voter registration resource you can visit for guidance on permissible voter registration activities for 501(c)(3) regulations plus ideas for conducting successful registration drives: www.nonprofitvote.org.
- Join a local Get-Out-the-Vote coalition and join other groups in your community in registering and motivating voters to go to the polls. Democracy NC coalitions are usually active at election time in a number of cities. During 2008, these areas included Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, Salisbury, Wilson, and Winston-Salem.
- Distribute flyers on Same Day Registration & Voting to let members of your congregation know they can register and vote early, at Early Voting sites, from 19 to 3 days before any Primary or General Election. You can click here to download a flyer (3 per page) or contact Democracy NC for copies to distribute at 919-286-6000. These are nonpartisan and may be distributed as part of any service.
For complete guidance on allowable activities, please download our Election Year Guide for Faith-Based Communities.