Public Witness

October 29, 2020

Allison Tanner

November 11, 2020

November 2020 portends to be a month unlike any other, as we continue living in a year unlike any other. In the wake of the election, and the likelihood that it will take some time for election results to be tabulated, there is potential for significant confusion and chaos to ensue. I pray for a safe and secure election, yielding a clear outcome, as well as a peaceful transfer of pow-er, should that be the outcome of the election. However, I am grateful to be partnering with organizations hard at work discerning how to prepare for uncertainty and confusion should 2020 continue to take us to places we never imagined.

Last week, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity asked me if I would expand my ministry of Public Witness to join them in efforts to coordinate and lead the faith community in the potential chaos of the upcoming weeks. Below are excerpts from a grant they have written, articulating a vision for the larger faith community to organize together and provide faithful leadership in the uncertain-ty of these days. I share this with you as a reminder of our ongoing commitment to engage in Public Witness in these unprecedented times, as well as the ways in which we can work with others for the good of our larger community.

In the face of the upcoming elections and the potential for a contested or chaotic post-election, organizations in the Bay Area have begun making preparations for how to respond in anticipation of several election scenarios. We feel it is critical that the faith community is prepared, organized, does not reinvent the wheel, and is plugged in to other activist planning.

The faith community includes hundreds of congregations of all races, religions and socio economic strata. Positioned as such, it is one of the best communication networks, especially to communities most disenfranchised who may have limited access to government or reliable information, and they are communities who might be vulnerable in times of potential chaos. Even in the midst of the pandemic, faith communities have been meeting regularly and are a critical source of practical care, hope and information. We want them to be well pre-pared for various possible scenarios. Given the specter of violence and the use of violence to contest the elections, we also feel the disciplined nonviolent, life and justice-affirming voice and actions of the faith community could be uniquely needed in times of national crisis.

Our goal is to create a coordinated response from the faith community to protect democracy in the face of several post-election scenarios. With a coordinated response we can be more effective, engage more people, avoid duplication, and be a ready partner with larger activist responses. We will also ensure that faith communities are aware that plans are in place for different scenarios which will help to dispel panic and engage more trusted messengers during this time. There are areas of the larger civil society response, where we believe that the faith community may be able to provide critical leadership and we seek to do this in a way that recognizes the diversity of faiths and racial equity.

If we are successful in our work, not only will democracy be upheld but this can also be a valuable opportunity to deepen civic engagement (for citizens and non-citizens alike) to protect democracy. It can also be a power building experience and experiment for faith communities and networks to coordinate and collaborate in new ways beyond our usual regional and issue siloes.

Peace in the midst of chaos,
Pastor Allison