More than 200 Minnesota clergy — Christian, Muslim and Jewish — have publicly endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president.
The faith-based endorsement of the Democratic candidate was coordinated by Vote Common Good, a national campaign led by the Rev. Doug Pagitt, formerly pastor of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis. He called it "the largest and most diverse faith group like this to come together in Minnesota."
The endorsements come from religious leaders across Minnesota, some making a public endorsement for the first time in their careers.
"I didn't make the decision lightly," said the Rev. Mark Hanson, former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "I consulted with former colleagues and current leaders.
"As I witnessed the elections, I didn't feel silence was an option."
The endorsements include some high-profile leaders of Minnesota's major religions: the Rev. Shari Prestemon, leader of the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ in Minnesota; Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota; and Rabbi Avi Olitzky of Beth El Synagogue.
The clergy stressed that they were making the endorsement as individuals and that they did not speak on behalf of their congregations.
The leaders argue that the nation is living in extraordinary times, battling a global pandemic, struggling economy and racial reckoning. They believe that Biden is the right choice to lead the country at this moment.
Hanson said he appreciated that the group endorsement included people of multiple faiths. But it was the dark nature of this presidential campaign, with "the demeaning of people and the denial of COVID-19" and the social divisions being sown that persuaded him to add his name to the list.
"We need to clarify that we have major challenges and that we must all work together," Hanson said.
The endorsements are part of the final mobilizing efforts of the Vote Common Good campaign, launched earlier this year. Earlier this month, the group released the names of 1,600 national clergy who endorsed Biden.
Pagitt and his entourage have traveled across the country on the Vote Common Good bus, arguing that there is a moral imperative to vote for a candidate whose behavior and policies are most aligned with people of faith.
Pagitt, reached in Pennsylvania, said he hopes the endorsements will help undecided voters reach decisions.
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511