By Kelly Swan, Director of Communications, Ignatian Solidarity Network
In August 2020, the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) launched the Voting is an Act of Love campaign, to encourage the Jesuit and broader Catholic network to exercise the right and responsibility to vote for candidates and issues that support the common good and show concern for the most vulnerable people in our society.
The campaign launched on the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: landmark federal legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. The name, “Voting is an Act of Love,” is inspired by these words of St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Love ought to show itself in deeds more than words.” The campaign encourages the “deed” of voting as an act of love—a way to live out the greatest commandments of loving and serving God and neighbor.
Voting is an Act of Love provides practical tools for voter mobilization, including a voter registration portal, voting pledge, and training and tools to mobilize school and parish community leaders. A host of resources are also offered for formation and discernment, including one-pagers on issues like immigration, environmental justice and criminal justice; stories on the real impact of the 2020 election from members of the Jesuit network; and prayer and reflection tools to understand civic responsibility through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.
Beth Ford McNamee, assistant director of campus ministry at Saint Joseph’s University, spoke about her campus’ engagement with voter mobilization and formation in the lead-up to this year’s election. “It is vital for students at a Jesuit, Catholic university to be engaged voters,” she shared. “Our student voter ambassadors are giving presentations, sharing registration links, and explaining how to request and return mail-in ballots. They are encouraging their peers to discern and vote for the common good, keeping in mind those who are experiencing marginalization and oppression.”
Gabriella Jeakle, a member of the Class of 2023 at Loyola Marymount University, has been deeply involved in civic engagement and voter mobilization efforts on her campus. “Jesuit education has always been about active involvement. It’s a faith that does justice, and in our political system, a lot of that justice comes through policy,” she said. “All I had to do was turn 18, and I was given the right to vote. For me, Catholicism is about seeking justice for historically marginalized people. Mobilizing my peers who have the privilege of voting eligibility is my way of serving those who do not have that ability because of systemic voter suppression.”
“We are called by our faith to bring Gospel values to our political system, by participating as voters and by encouraging others to do the same,” shared Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “Pope Francis reminds us that, ‘good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leaders can govern.’ The Voting is an Act of Love campaign challenges all of us to bring the value of love for all God’s creation—our neighbor and our Earth—to the forefront of Election 2020.”
ISN has partnered with When We All Vote to provide voter registration resources on its website. When We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization with a mission to increase participation in every election, and close the race and age voting gaps.