(RNS) — The African Methodist Episcopal Church and other historically Black faith groups in Georgia have delayed a boycott of major companies, planning instead to protest the Masters golf tournament while giving company executives additional time to combat controversial elections law in the state.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AME Bishop Reginald Jackson, who oversees the church’s 6th District in the state, is pressing pause on plans for a boycott of Coca-Cola, Delta, Home Depot and other companies previously slated to begin Wednesday (April 7).
Instead, Jackson reportedly intends to wait until after he is able to convene with executives from several companies — a meeting he told Religion News Service was initially scheduled for Monday or Tuesday of this week.
“Hopefully, we won’t have to give the signal (for the boycott),” Jackson told the AJC.
Jackson and other faith leaders have been calling for a boycott since at least the day the elections law was passed on March 25. The clergy argue the companies have not done enough to fight the law, which Jackson has framed as “an attempt to turn back time to Jim Crow.” Activists decried a number of its provisions, such as limiting drop boxes, imposing voter ID requirements and banning the act of handing out food and water to people waiting in line to vote.
Jackson initially said faith groups, including the entire AME denomination, would boycott the companies if they did not take four actions: speak out against the law, as at least two companies — Coca-Cola and Delta — have done; oppose similar elections legislation in other states; voice support for two federal voting rights laws; and voice support for a lawsuit recently filed by faith groups and others who believe the Georgia law is unconstitutional.
It’s unclear precisely when Jackson’s meeting with executives from Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, AT&T, Aflac and others will occur, although he suggested to AJC the virtual gathering will take place next week.
In the meantime, religious leaders reportedly also plan to hold a protest at the Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the prestigious Masters Tournament slated to begin on Thursday. Religious activists argue the club, like several of the companies, has been silent on the law.
Other faith leaders are also decrying the law. On March 31, clergy mobilized by Faith in Public Life processed to the Georgia Capitol and left out water bottles for legislators in protest of the law’s ban against performing similar acts for people waiting in line to vote.
The efforts of faith leaders and other activists have already garnered results. Last week, Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game from Truist Park in Atlanta to Denver, with Commissioner Rob Manfred issuing a statement that read: “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”