News from Progress Michigan

November 17, 2021

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574,

Open Letter: Faith Leaders Speak Out on Secure MI Vote Petition

Clergy and faith leaders sign onto letter raising concerns about impact of Secure MI Vote

MICHIGAN – Over 60 faith leaders and clergy from across Michigan signed on to an open letter to voters and state lawmakers regarding the Secure MI Vote petition. The letter highlights the problematic nature of the petition and what it would do to voters and clerks across Michigan.

The letter highlights a recent report by Progress Michigan showing how 20 percent of polling places across Michigan are housed in places of worship and could be negatively impacted by the Secure MI Vote proposal.

The language of the letter and the list of signatories are below.

We, the undersigned faith leaders from across Michigan agree:

The Secure MI Vote petition is a sweeping proposal that will negatively impact voters, clerks, and communities.

As faith leaders and clergy, we are particularly concerned about the provision in the proposal that would ban places of worship from donating their spaces to local clerks to use as polling locations. A recent report shows that roughly 20 percent of polling places across Michigan could be impacted by this proposal.

Places of worship have a long and rich history of being hubs of community activity that includes serving as polling places for cities and townships across Michigan. The idea that faith leaders would be forced to charge clerks, who already operate on tight budgets, for the use of their space, or be blocked as accessible polling locations is unconscionable and would go against the helpful role our congregations and facilities play in our communities.

Whatever the rationale was for this policy, the result is clear: it will confuse and disenfranchise voters while barring community spaces, like places of worship, from providing a service to voters regardless of their religious or political affiliations. 

Not only would the Secure MI Vote proposal ban congregations from donating their spaces for polling places, but it would also take away voting options on Election Day by removing the option to vote by affidavit, make absentee voting less accessible by requiring more information from voters who are already registered, and cut off funding opportunities to local clerks without any provision to replace it.

Given these issues, we strongly urge voters across Michigan and state lawmakers in Lansing to think about whether this proposal is worth supporting given its likely negative impact on voters, clerks, and communities. As faith leaders, we believe in the freedom for everyone to have equitable access to elections, and the Secure MI Vote proposal would severely limit this.


Rev. Burnard Byles, Church of Our Father Missionary Baptist Church, Detroit

Cynthia Butler, Pastoral Liaison, Church of the Messiah, Detroit

Rev. Louise Ott, Cong. Ch. Of Birmingham, UCC, Bloomfield Hills

Rabbi Jeffrey L. Falick, Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Metro Detroit, Farmington Hills

Rabbi Alicia Harris, Congregation Shir Tikvah, Troy

Dr. Paul von Oeyen, Social Justice Facilitator, Detroit Metro Assoc, United Church of Christ, Congregational Church of Birmingham United Church of Christ, Bloomfield Hills

Rev. Louise R. Ott, Congregational Church of Birmingham, UCC, Bloomfield Hills

Evangelist Elva Carson, Conventional Missionary Baptist Church, Detroit

Rabbi Alana Alpert, Detroit Jews for Justice, Detroit

Rabbi Ariana Silverman, Downtown Synagogue, Detroit

Rev. Kristin Stroble, Pastor, Eastminster Presbyterian Church, East Lansing

Rev. Elizabeth Miller, Edgewood United Church UCC, East Lansing

Clayton Blackwell, Evergreen Church, Ann Arbor

Rev. Dr. Laura Miller-Purrenhage, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Grand Ledge

Rev. Ben Rumbaugh, First Presbyterian Church of Holt, Holt

Connie McGuire, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor

Dr. Samuel White, III, Friendship Baptist Church, Detroit

Dr. John E. Duckworth, GMBC Gethsemane Bapt. Church, Westland

Arthur Berry Sr, Chaplain, Hope for the Community Mission, Detroit

Rev Dr Sid Mohn, Director, Interfaith Action of SW Michigan, SW Michigan

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, Kehillat Etz Chayim of Detroit, Huntington Woods

Minister Debra D. King, Liberty Temple Baptist Church, Detroit

Alonzo Bell, Pastor, Martin Evers MBC, Detroit

Bonnie Campbell, member liaison, New Hope UU Congregation, New Hudson

Rev. Jeffery D. Harrold, New Beginnings Community Church of Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor

Rev. Dr. Laura J. Hunt, New Beginnings Community Church of Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor

Rev. Joseph Stephens, Pastor, New Birth Baptist Church, Inkster

Michael Kelleher, New Hope A Unitarian Universalist Congregation, New Hudson

Kathy Silver, Director of Religious Education, New Hope Unitarian Universalist Congregation, New Hudson

Denise Harris, President of the Board, New Hope Unitarian Universalist Congregation, New Hudson

Rev. Jody Betten, New Waves United Church of Christ, Traverse City

Randy Block, Director, Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network, Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church, Southfield

Kim Spencer, Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church, Southfield

Barbara Stevenson, NWUU, Southfield

Rabbi Dr. Chava Bahle, Or Tzafon Spiritual Community, Suttons Bay

Kellen Brooks, Senior Pastor, Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ, Inkster

Richard “Bud” Murphy, Retired Minister, Peoples Church, Ludington

Dr. Keith L Whitney, Sanctuary Fellowship Baptist Church, Detroit

Rev. Dr. Julie J. Kilmer, Spirit of Peace Church of the Brethren, East Lansing

Prof. Paul Holman, PhD, St. Clalre’s Church, Ann Arbor

Linda Klimach, Senior Warden, St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church, Ann Arbor

Christine Modey, President of the Board, Genesis of Ann Arbor, St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church and Genesis of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor

Rev. Cheryl Burke, Associate Conference Minister, St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ, Lansing

Rabbi Jen Lader, Temple Israel, West Bloomfield

Rev. Jacqueline Melson, Third New Baptist Church, Detroit

Rev. Gail Shafer, Trinity Episcopal Church, Grand Ledge

Elder Leslie Mathews, Director of Outreach, Triumphant Life Christian Church, Highland Park

Melvin T Jones, Pastor, Union Missionary Baptist Church, Lansing

Rev. Neal Anderson, Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, Lansing

Frank Jackson, Pastor, United Christian Church, Detroit

Rev. Sharon Ketchum, Senior Minister, Unity Spiritual Center of Lansing, Lansing

Rev. Dr. Selma Massey, and DMA Moderator, Whosoever Ministry UCC, Grosse Pointe Farms

Vicki McGaffigan, UU the Vote Volunteer Squad Leader, Bay de Noc UU, Escanaba

Rev. Dr. Kit Carlson, All Saints Episcopal Church, East Lansing

Rev. Colleen Squires, All Souls Community Church of West Michigan, Grand Rapids MI

Irene Walter, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Troy

Rabbi Robert Dobrusin, Beth Israel Congregation, Ann Arbor

Jacob Zinke, Birmingham Congregational Church UCC, Bloomfield Hills

Pat Hammer, Birmingham Unitarian Church, Bloomfield Hills

Julia Pulver, Board of Trustees, Birmingham Unitarian Church, Bloomfield Hills

Rev. Maymette Dolberry, Brown Chapel AME Church, Ypsilanti

John Hearn Jr. Pastor, Christian Faith Ministries of Garden City, Garden City

Rev. John D. Hearn Jr., President Inkster Ministerial Alliance, Christian Faith Ministries of Garden City, Garden City