One year after a violent mob inspired by the sitting president encouraged an insurrection to block the count of electoral votes, our democracy remains at risk.
One year later, the Jan. 6 insurrection looks less like a singular event and more like the most visible and extreme manifestation of an ongoing effort to dismantle our democratic system.
On January 6 last year, we shut down the FCNL office following police reports of a pipe-bomb in our neighborhood. Photos began popping up on social media of racist, antisemitic protestors attacking Capitol Police and “hunting” for the vice-president and members of Congress. Many of the images were posted by the protestors themselves. In subsequent days we watched in alarm as National Guard soldiers armed with automatic weapons encircled the Capitol, stationed every 50 feet behind 12-foot-high fences.
The National Guard soldiers have gone home, and the fences have largely come down. A congressional committee is investigating the events of January 6, but large portions of the country still do not believe the certified—and in many cases audited—results of the elections.
One year later, the Jan. 6 insurrection looks less like a singular event and more like the most visible and extreme manifestation of an ongoing effort to dismantle our democratic system. In the last year we watched as states and local governments around the country passed laws to make voting more difficult, particularly for the poor and communities of color, and systematically undermined voting rights. The ugly reality is that white supremacy remains a powerful force in our country.
At the national level, Congress has repeatedly failed to pass common sense legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act and protect the right to vote. “Participation in the political and electoral process is essential to the proper functioning of government,” declares the FCNL policy statement, The World We Seek. Beyond the legal obstacles to voting, when politicians question the results of certified election results and continue to promote lies about stolen elections, many ordinary people in this country simply turn away from the political process. This, too, is a deliberate effort to undermine democracy.
As a matter of faith and practice, we engage every elected official to build non-partisan coalitions that bring people together to change federal policy in the direction of the world we seek. In the last year, our volunteer advocates around the country have met hundreds of times with lawmakers from both major political parties. We will continue to do this work.
The only way to respond to this test is to work at the local, state, and federal level to resist all efforts to undermine the right to vote and participate in our political system.
At the same time, on this one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, the leadership of one of our major political parties, the Republican Party, is actively working to undermine our democratic system of government. By refusing to condemn the violent attempt to overthrow the elected government, by repeatedly undermining the congressional investigation of January 6, and by embracing the lie that Joe Biden did not win the last presidential election, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is threatening the fundamental structures of our government.
As a faith community, we will continue to work to answer to that of God in every person. And we will work carefully and openly with all members of Congress. We will also continue to condemn the actions of any individual or member of Congress who is intent on eroding the votes of anyone living in this country.
It is not hyperbole to suggest that our democratic system of government is being tested. The only way to respond to this test is to work at the local, state, and federal level to resist all efforts to undermine the right to vote and participate in our political system. This is work that the FCNL will be part of in 2022.