As noted earlier, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee’s hearing on the For the People Act, which would expand voting rights, had its tense moments, as befits so important a topic. But Mississippi senator Cindy Hyde-Smith lightened things up with some inadvertent comedy while defending efforts in Georgia to restrict early in-person voting on Sundays:
Aside from the chutzpah involved in lecturing Jewish U.S. senator Chuck Schumer about the meaning of the Sabbath as instructed in the Hebrew Scriptures, Hyde-Smith is inviting some follow-up questions by suggesting it is sacrilegious to allow political activity on Sundays. Does that mean she opposes demands from many fellow Republicans and conservative Evangelical ministers to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits electioneering by nonprofit organizations, so ministers can endorse politicians like Cindy Hyde-Smith from the pulpit? Last I heard, that was a core “religious freedom” issue for the Christian Right.
And if Hyde-Smith’s real objection to entirely voluntary Sunday early voting is that people ought to be worshipping on the Sabbath rather than engaging in nonreligious activities, is she going to support legislation bringing back ancient blue laws restricting commercial or recreational activities on the Lord’s Day? I don’t think so.
The simple truth is that proposed restrictions on Sunday voting in the Deep South are about one thing and one thing only: targeting “Souls to the Polls” events common among Black churches following Sunday worship services. It has zero to do with respect for the Sabbath, which Republicans profane as often as everyone else. It has everything to do with disrespect for churches where the faithful don’t happen to share Cindy Hyde-Smith’s point of view, but nonetheless are bold to insist on opportunities to vote.