WASHINGTON D.C. July 28, 2014—Dr. David Schuringa, president of Crossroad Bible Institute, joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to voice his support for the Democracy Restoration Act (DRA) at a bipartisan Senate briefing in the Dirksen Building. Serving on a six-member panel that included civil rights leaders and law enforcement experts, Dr. Schuringa offered the packed hearing room a faith-based perspective on the bill, which Sen. Cardin introduced to Congress in April.
The DRA, which would restore federal voting rights to formerly incarcerated people, has quickly gained bipartisan support, as evidenced by Sen. Cardin’s and Sen. Paul’s opening remarks at the briefing. Sen. Paul called the issue of felony disenfranchisement “the biggest voting rights problem facing our country,” not just for returning citizens but for all Americans.
Sen. Cardin agreed, adding that political differences have not undermined the united stance he and Sen. Paul have taken on voting rights restoration. “We’ve joined forces in recognizing that there is an important policy that we can advance in helping people reenter into our society,” he said.
According to a 2014 press release from Sen. Cardin, felony convictions deny 5.85 million citizens voting rights, though only 25 percent of those citizens are currently incarcerated. In his speech at the briefing, Sen. Cardin discussed the “terrible injustice” of how these numbers unfairly affect minority communities.
Dr. Schuringa, who represented the Communities of Faith Advisory Council of the Brennan Center for Justice, brought a pastoral perspective to the senators’ remarks. He noted that re-enfranchising the people whom society labels “damaged goods” embodies the Judeo-Christian values of mercy and redemption and helps returning citizens feel invested in their communities.
“Each of us have failed and are sinners, but we can be transformed to be more than our worst failings,” Dr. Schuringa said. “The right to vote can help transform people by offering and affirming their dignity and place in our society.”
A recording of the briefing is available here. Dr. Schuringa’s presentation begins at 1:06:32.