Caucus Forces Jews to Choose Between Their Religion and Democracy
Washington, DC – The Interfaith Alliance criticized the Nevada Democratic and Republican Parties for scheduling their presidential caucuses for a Saturday, which is the Jewish Sabbath. On the Sabbath, tradition restricts Jews from working and traveling and thus would prohibit them from participating in the caucuses. Further complicating matters, both caucuses are scheduled in the morning in direct conflict with religious services in synagogues and temples of all denominations. And unlike a primary election, there is no opportunity for absentee voting in a caucus. While acknowledging that it is too late to change the caucus date this year, The Interfaith Alliance calls on Nevada to take steps now to avoid this problem in the future. The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance issued the following statement:
The decision of the Nevada Democratic and Republican parties to schedule their presidential caucus on a Saturday morning is disappointing. While it is unfortunate that they decided not to fix the problem in time for the 2008 election, they have more then enough time to act before 2012. This scheduling decision imposes a barrier that will prevent the full participation of the Jewish community in Nevada.
In a country that values religious liberty, no person should ever be forced to choose between practicing their religion and participating in their democracy. America is the most religiously diverse nation in the world, and the political process should be open to all on equal terms. The Nevada Democratic Party has made efforts for other communities to be included in the process. For example, the party has scheduled caucus locations at casinos to facilitate the participation of casino workers and others. But when such a large group of voters are put in this difficult position, the party has fallen far short of its desired inclusiveness.
This is a rare opportunity for the voters in Nevada to play a substantial role in the presidential nominating process. Unfortunately, the leaders of both parties in that state are squandering this opportunity by making it difficult for so many people of faith to participate.
The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of religion in the life of the nation and challenging those who manipulate religion to promote a narrow, divisive agenda. With more than 185,000 members drawn from more than 75 faith traditions and 47 local activist groups throughout America, TIA promotes compassion, civility and mutual respect for human dignity in our increasingly diverse society. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.