November 1st, 2010
06:22 PM ET

My take: Which religious voters will show up on Tuesday?

Editor's Note: Anthea Butler is Associate Professor of Religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania and is an expert on Black churches, evangelicalism and the religious right.

By Anthea Butler, Special to CNN

The focus throughout the mid-term campaign has been on the Tea Partiers and predominately white religious communities supporting Republican or Tea Party Candidates. What about other religious communities of African Americans and Latino’s? These constituencies, facing immigration issues, foreclosures, and high unemployment levels, have social issues requiring urgent action.

For Latino and African American Voters of faith, the traditional appeal to values voting or litmus tests applied to candidates are not the sole means of vetting candidates.

Social concerns often drive voting from these religious communities.

In the present economic and social climate, many of these voters are looking for different values, based in community care, uplift, and long-term social solutions. Many of these concerns are often based in religious practices. Examples are days of prayer and fasting for immigration reform, food banks, and programs to assist immigrants. Yet each of these ethnic communities will deal with the 2010 vote in different ways.

Latino voters of faith in Nevada, Arizona and California and Florida could tip the scales between Democratic, Republican, and Tea Party candidates. The small gains the Republican Party previously made within the Latino community have been washed away with strict platforms on immigration and amnesty.

The hard line against immigration clashes with Catholic and some mainstream Protestant beliefs, found in the bible, about showing hospitality to strangers.

Despite candidate pleas to morality and values voting, Latino’s are for the most part, breaking away to vote with candidates who favor some type of immigration reform that will protect those who are not legal citizens. Incidents such as Carly Fiorina’s repudiation and firing of her maid, along with Sharon Angles’ campaign commercials depictions of Latino men illegally crossing the border, have helped to mobilize Latino churches for voter registration drives.

Similarly, Latino candidates themselves cannot count on “affiliation” voting. Marco Rubio’s close connections to the Tea Party could alienate Latino voters from him, despite all of his outreach efforts.

For African American churchgoers, get out the vote efforts have been in effect in full force and from the pulpits of churches across the nation.

President Obama began making a pitch to Black voters in September when he gave an impassioned speech to the Congressional Black Caucus to mobilize Black voters for the for the midterm elections. Yet the wholesale acceptance of Black voters for Obama in 2008 may not translate fully into the 2010 election.

Testing the long-standing coalition between candidates, black pastors, and the congregations, the 14 Black Republican Candidates in the midterms could peel some black voters away from the Democratic Party.

In Florida, Kendrick Meeks may not be able to count on votes from African Americans because of the rumors surrounding being asked to withdraw his name from the race. Pastors of congregations hoping for political clout, will not back a candidate who is running last in a three-man race.

The biggest issue facing the African American community of faith is voter apathy. Voters beleaguered by issues of debt, unemployment, and foreclosures are not apt to find solace in candidates who are not providing solutions to these pressing community issues.

The coalition of black churches in urban communities can no longer be counted on for block Democratic votes, and despite the president’s pleas, he may find that his most loyal constituency will not be able to bring significant wins to the Democratic column come Tuesday.

Wednesday morning will be a very different situation in both communities, and how these communities vote will be crucial to the results.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Anthea Butler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Black issues • Christianity • Latino issues • Politics • Race • Tea Party

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Moment_of_Faith

    Why are all men created equal in the Declaration of Independence? Because in the eyes of Jesus all men are Gentile, Jew, Rich, Poor, Black, White all that believe in him are equal. It also says you are endowed by your creator – Who is that? GOD / Jesus.

    Separation of Church and State is to Protect the CHURCH not the state. The state has always takes over the Church not the other way around.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If jc thought all men are equal, please explain statements in the bible that say slavery is ok.

      November 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • civilioutside

      1) The Declaration of Independence is not a docu-ment that delineates the structure of American government. That would be the Consti-tution. 2) the phrase "endowed by their creator," you'll notice, does not specifically name the Christian God as being said creator. You read it that way because you want to, but many historical scholars argue that the phrase was specifically chosen so as to include all people of all faiths regardless of who they believed their creator to be.

      November 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Declaration of Independence is full of lovely, florid language – but prior to 1812 only white male landowners were able to vote. Over the next 48 years the amount of land needed was systematically lowered until all white men were able to vote. In 1870, black men were allowed suffrage. In 1920, women were finally allowed to vote as well.
      Perhaps Jesus sees all humans as equal, but the framers of the const-itution and declaration on independence most certainly did not.

      November 2, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
    • Peanut

      You idiot- have you seen the Vatican? That place is a dark spot on the human mentality. That is what happens when church and state merge- you get a bunch of sick minded men led by one liar who thinks he's god.

      November 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  2. Doc Vestibule

    Which of your founding fathers had a relationship with Jesus?
    The vast majority of them were not religious. Deists perhaps, but certainly not theists.
    The Mayflower folk were largely religious zealots – puritans who fled the immorality of the Anglican church – but the drafters of your const-itution and Declaration of Independence were acutely aware of the dangers of theocratic rule. Hence the provisions preventing Congress establishing a national religion.
    Your country was built on secularism, not religiosity.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  3. Ian

    People who believe in a Bronze Age sky-god have been re-branded as "voters of faith" in this article. That would be quite droll if it wasn't so scary.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  4. someoneelse

    The fact that there are still many 'religious voters' shows how far our society still needs to go to be called modern.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • Moment_of_Faith

      Remember the Dark Ages is where they took all of our books including the Bible and taught us what they wanted us to know. So I now encourage you to come out the dark ages and open the good book and learn for yourself and stop allowing someone else to tell you what the bible says

      November 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  5. JKJR

    It was not Carly Fiorina who repudiated and fired her maid, it was Meg Whitman. Both candidates in California, but running for different positions. Oh, and definitely different people. Get your facts straight. Poorly researched (and not a very hard fact to research, either).

    November 2, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  6. kg

    What about all the white religious voters who don't support the Tea Party or conservativism.... seems to be some misunderstanding that we're ALL somehow on that bandwagon. I guarantee you we are not. The Tea Party is not the majority of white voters, I don't care what your fancy polls might tell you.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  7. Religious Jerk

    Every citizen one has the absolute RIGHT to vote. Doesn't matter what the basis for their personal values is–religion, lack of religion, science, whatever. I'm reading posts on this page and seeing the EXACT SAME type of bigotry and closed mindedness from people who will also claim to be enlightened. Spare me...

    We all have a world viewand a set of values. For someone whose values happen to not come from any sort of traditional religious background to grandstand and marginalize anothers values is bigotry and hatred no different than what you say is displayed by those who "got religion".

    November 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  8. TRH

    Fanatics and extremists are among the most dangerous individuals...especially religious ones. It doesn't matter WHAT their religion is... Christian, Muslim, Hebrew, etc.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  9. Grammie

    Only those people who are gullible enough to believe that you are a Christian only if you vote Republican. Where is all the outrage about separation of church and state when preachers start telling their congregations that they are hellbound if they vote for a Democrat??? There tax exempt status should be taken away the minute politics is mentioned in a church! And religion should be left out of politics.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Greg


      I agree for the most part that politics should not be a focal point for a church, but the separation of church and state is to prevent the formation of a national religion. First paragraph at this site explains some basic history... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state

      November 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    While I abhor religion in government, which always leads to bad policies, and laws, religious voters can still look carefully at which candidates will favor policies that make sense for Americans.

    Those policies don't really have racial overtones, at all. What is good for one race, is mostly good for any other, if the policies make sense.

    First, voters should vote for those they can trust, and who appear to be ethical and honest (recognizing that's hard to find in a politician.) Second, vote for those who will consider the people's wishes, and not their own benefits. Third vote for those who support the overall policies that provide opportunity, fiscal responsibility, and decency, for living in America. Fourth, let your religious faith, live in church, and not in Washington.

    Then, race will not matter. We will all be better off.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
  11. Wolfhound

    I voted for those candidates who promised to mind their own beeswax and keep their religiously constructed tools of oppression to themselves instead of trying to legislate it.

    November 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  12. Reality

    I voted for those candidates who promised to protect human life in all its forms.

    November 2, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • Greg

      Ditto, gotta protect the little guys and girls. Even if they aren't here yet.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  13. Protonic

    Those who follow religion and think it means more than their country need to have their right to vote taken away from them.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  14. Martin

    This article is a scathing rebuttal of any assertion that reform is unneeded in higher education: there are numerous errors in punctuation (eg, "Latino's" for Latinos), capitalization, and especially syntax. The naked, unsupported assertions included are another matter altogether. Otherwise, it would have been a good topic, with the underlying premise that Christian voters cannot be labeled easily. Please choose a better editor or writer next time. Professors should be held to a higher standard.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  15. Frogist

    I honestly think all those other issues of immigration, debt and foreclosure problems, are going to be secondary to the people who are turning out to vote because of their religion. It's a nice idea that latinos and Catholics are getting out the vote to counter racist immigration laws, and black voters are going to recognize the importance of unemployment and foreclosures. But is that really accurate? Or are the religious people going to vote on what their religion says about gays and abortion? I know religious people are all different with different economic, social, political concerns, but when they turn out at the polls will those differences really matter? Or will the people who consider themselves religious go out there and vote for those who are also religious.
    An interesting side note for anyone who watched Colbert last night... he played a republican add asking latinos not to vote. Really republicans? Personally, I want everyone to go out and vote. I care more about you voting than who you vote for.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • Sum Dude

      I'm still waiting for the gov't to finally ask everyone their opinions on every issue instead of giving us the runaround, the cold shoulder, and more politicians that do not actually represent us or our interests.

      We have the technology. We should be able to vote on pretty much anything now. Yet we're still being kept under lock and key and in the dark as much as possible while feeding us just enough hype to get us to stampede every now and then.

      I hate it. I want real representation and I want to vote on the real issues – not this garbage every so often. I want accuracy and honesty in our government along with real accountability. But I am too cynical to believe it'll ever happen. 🙁

      November 2, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • Peace2All


      I always wonder about those very issues you posed concerning the 'religious' and their motivations, and to whom they will vote for and why.

      I think you will find a mix, between right-wing conservatives that will 'most likely' follow the party-line as will the far, far left.

      As for the rest somewhere in between those polarized extremes, i am extremely curious to find out what the ultimate demographic break down is.

      How you had a great time at the Stewart/Colbert event...? If you have time, I would love to hear your impressions of the event...


      November 2, 2010 at 10:28 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Sum Dude

      Sir Dude... Very curious as to what you consider to be the 'real' issues we should be voting on....?

      I have my own list, curious where we might overlap, and where we may have differences. Could make for a good discussion..eh..?

      And as far as the negativity and cynicism that you claim, that seemingly goes to 'ident-i-ty' for you as opposed to 'sometimes' I am 'cynical'.... Your friend and 'GURU' 🙂 suggests you watch the Dalai Lama, Tich Nhat Hahn, and Eckhart Tolle.. oh, and of course your favorite...Deepak Chopra.... take 2 aspirin, do some 'meditiation', and call me in the morning if you aren't cured. 🙂 lol...

      WE will make a difference...!!! I just had to say it...!! Who can resist the power of Peace2All and Sum Dude..?!! 🙂

      Peace Bro...


      November 2, 2010 at 10:36 am |
    • Sum Dude

      You said, "Very curious as to what you consider to be the 'real' issues we should be voting on....?"

      Don't go there. It's a bad place. You don't want to go there. Trust me on this. My skin turns green and stuff like that. Very bad.

      November 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Sum Dude

      My apologies.... I have been a bit distracted over the last several days. I know the answers to my own question.

      Sorry.... Take a breath... Calm down... !


      November 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  16. Ed

    The following voters will turn up: All christians who do not put faith in in God's kingdom and they call themselves followers of Christ

    November 2, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  17. Reality

    Warning to all new commentators:

    The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also “a-pe” and “gra-pe”. You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

    More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

    November 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Many, if not most are buried within other words, but I am not shooting for the perfect list, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      s-ex....as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      c-um.........as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, etc.
      sp-ic........as in disp-icable (look out Sylvester the cat!)
      ho-mo...whether ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, etc.
      t-it.........const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, etc.
      fu-ck...isn't this a great word? yet they filter it. 🙁
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, (an unexpected one)
      pr-ick....perhaps cupr-ic would also fall under the ban.
      va-g....as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      ar-se....yet "ass" is not filtered!
      nip-ple...those baby bottles are obscene aren't they?
      cu-nt...as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK, famous for having problems with filters...!
      co-on...as in rac-oon, coc-oon
      ra-pe...as in gr-ape, etc.
      jacka-ss...but ass is fine lol
      p-is.....as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, etc.

      do not assume that this is a complete list. Some racist words stop the filter, but no one uses them much anyway...
      okay words that you might have thought were bad...lol

      I have found the best way to re-submit is to hit the back button, delete the cookies, look for and fix the problem and then hit "post".
      There are also "technical" ways past the filter, like "html ent-ities" (google it without the dash), but the filter is the problem, not a solution.

      November 2, 2010 at 3:22 am |
  18. Sum Dude

    We need American voters to show up and vote.
    "Religious" voters can stay the hell away from anything resembling a ballot, if you please...!

    We have enough problems, thank you. Take your "religious thinkspeak" and take away your OWN freedoms and rights, not the rights and freedoms of ALL AMERICANS.

    Use your personal religious choices in a personal manner and keep it away from other Americans. You cannot legislate morality or religious values – all that you end up doing is oppressing the people instead of promoting liberty.

    November 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Sum Dude

      Right on Sir Dude...!


      November 2, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • Sum Dude


      Forsooth, thou hast only to meditate upon these things and thy noggin shall become as hard as a rock.
      Then shall the walls of thy house tremble and shake! 😀

      November 2, 2010 at 3:04 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Sum Dude

      ROTFLMAO..!!!!! Sir Dude... Ya' keeping me in sti-tiches bro...!!!! 🙂

      We shall see today how the election results go, and whether or not the 'fundies' are gloating....."See, God was on our side...!"

      "We have only just begun to take away your individual freedoms and rights.."

      Then, sayeth the 'guru' after much meditation on these matters..... 'My head shall be a bangin' against the evil doctrine of fundamentalism'

      Peace brotha..!!!

      November 2, 2010 at 10:22 am |
    • FreedomBaby

      Do not kill – legislated morality.
      Do not steal – legislated morality.
      Do not oppress – legislated morality.
      False Advertising – legislated morality.
      and the list goes on and on and on. I am religious and I will vote. There is nothing you can do about it. You tried and that's why your buddies will be voted out today.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'You tried and that's why your buddies will be voted out today'
      They tried huh? and how did they try?

      November 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • Greg

      Sum Dude,

      Just wanted to say sorry. I made some comments which you found very offensive. To say we disagree on some things would be a gross understatement, one which I am sure you agree with, but regardless, I am sorry. I did not intend to offend you.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • Kate

      Freedombaby – all those things are not exactly as your religion dictates, and as morals they certainly existed long before your religion did. It's basic rules of social behavior dear – it's in your genes, not your god, who has never bothered to make an appearance, so apparently doesn't exist.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Greg – Thanks, Greg. I am sorry, too, if that helps. I say things I regret so often that I tend to lose track of them all.
      Thanks for not making a giant deal about all the horrible things I probably said. You're okay. ;P

      November 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
    • Greg

      No problem. Passionate people tend to respond with passion, not necessarily a bad thing...

      November 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      All those laws do not legislate morality. Morality is not found in paperwork, laws, the Constltution, or anything like that.

      Morality is a mental process that deals with value judgments as they relate to a person's self and relations with other people.
      It is internal, not external.
      You cannot legislate a person's internal judgments of what actions to take or what beliefs to have.
      Freedom of thought makes legislating morality impossible.

      Those laws are used as deterrents. They do not affect a person's morals.

      For example, I can have murder in my heart and not kill anyone because of the laws against murder.
      They may succeed in deterring my actions, but if my morals are still murderous, and if I think I can get away with murder, I might be tempted to go ahead and kill.

      Or maybe I have moral inhibitions against actually harming another, yet still desire murder. In that case, murder could be legal and I would still refrain from murder, because of my internal moral values keep me from following my desires, which I reject because of my moral values without the law coming into effect at all.

      You cannot legislate morality unless you want to violate freedom of thought and give us all lobotomies or brainwash everyone.
      But that would violate our rights as human beings. Yet that would still not control our thoughts in detail, only in general, for complete thought control is beyond even what science or brainwashing can do.

      It remains impossible. Your assertions are mistaken as to our rights and abilities. Your argument is FAIL.

      November 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      I forgot to mention the possibility of people who have the moral strength of a wet noodle. They might take all their morals from what is legislated – but I certainly hope they are the exception and not the rule.
      If you need legislation to give you your morals, you are an extremely dangerous person to have around other people.
      Sorry I left out that exception. There might be be other exceptions, but gullibility and the inability to think for yourself will always be undesireable to me and should be discouraged as strongly as possible.
      We are a nation of free people. Government is supposed to rule by OUR consent- which implies that we should have the morals already in place anyway.....so says me.

      November 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  19. charles bowen

    America take a close look at the taliban in iraq and you will be viewing america under the religious right in our country. I did not serve my country for 9 years to be told what is right or wrong by some american pastor, priest, rabbi, or any other religious fanatic. Remember Jim Jones and dont drink the republican rights kool-aid.

    November 1, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @charles bowen

      Thank you for your service to our Country. And, also good to hear a military man discussing freedom. Not oppressing the American people by voting in 'religion' as a way to rule.

      Thank you again...


      November 2, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • Choconet

      I have a relationship with Christ and I have served this country in the US Army for 6 years. This nation was established on Biblical principles. It was God's word that set-up the very legal system this country has establish today. Our forefathers were men of deep devotion to Jesus Christ! It is because of the God we serve that this nation has liberty and freedoms like no other country. Before you spew any more ignorance, learn the true history of this country and read and study the Bible.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Chris

      I'm with you man, I don't like how even now this country has insane restrictive laws.
      I live in Texas....and thanks to the religious people, you cant buy cars on Sunday and liquor stores cant be open.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      The nonsense you say about the beginnings of our country and our "forefathers" has been debunked several times in this blog.
      Stop making stuff up. This country is not a "Christian nation", did not start as a "Christian nation", and will never be a "Christian nation".
      If you want to live in a Christian theocracy, go live in the Vatican.
      YOU need to do some REAL RESEARCH into this nation's REAL HISTORY. Serving in the Armed Forces does not give you a free pass to making shit up about our country!!!!!!!!

      November 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • Kate

      Uh, no this country was not formed on biblical principles – you need to read your history books and apologize to your history teacher for lying.

      For a religious man, I am completely disgusted with your behavior.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • Jack

      Our legal system was not founded on religious law. It is based on the English common law which was an evolving type of judge made law. We don't need God to tell us not to kill people or steal from them.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • Colin


      Our forefathers were men and women who fled to this country FROM religion, not to it.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
    • Chris

      People like you have a mindset. This mindset is what I think makes you religious. You completely disregard everything that goes against the way you see it. No matter how many black and white 100% proven facts are brought before you, you disregard them. The bible steals from other books throughout history. The codes of Hammurabi are some of the oldest written laws, guess what the first 10 are....yeah it gets even better because its translation is almost exactly "you shall not".

      November 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • MikinAz

      to charles – thanks for restoring my faith that our soliers are not mere drones and that you do think for yourselves. Now to Choconet – this countyr was founded on religeous freedom – not principles. THe foudners did their best to keep religeon out of our country's planning and running – and for good reason. Elect no officials who govern based on faith – Tru separation of church and state.

      November 2, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • RAWoD

      @Choconet and all other believers in fairy tales. This country was NOT founded on a positive religious note. Quite the contrary. As to evangelicals like yourself, please go read about the founding fathers. The majority were Master Masons who understood the need for the separation of church and state. Our laws were not based upon any fiction - they sprung from English Common laws as well as from the earliest truths of the masons. Believe what you will - the truth is still the truth.

      November 2, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • Oakspar77777

      The Virginia Colony was founded for financial gain – not religion. The Mass colony, however, was founded by devoutely religious Puritans who were seeking to create a perfect theocracy with religious freedom for their beliefs only (Roger Williams puchaced Rhode Island as a refuge for people banished by the Puritan theocracy).

      So the origens of this country are an even divide between comercial interprise and religious theocracy.

      The founding fathers were overwhelmingly religious, and even the few "deist" among them still held to Christian creed and morality (they merely denied the continued intervention of the divine into the mundane). Their appeals to "natural law" were appeals to the divinity of any argument reflected in the world based on the principle that what is "natural" in a divinely created world would reflect the values of the Creator.

      Arguments that America was founded as a secular society are spurious and false. Even the phrase "wall of separation between church and state" was coined by Roger Williams (not Jefferson) as a responce to the Puritan's theocracy. Clearly Williams, a devout minister himself, who founded the first Baptist church in the colonies are supported Quaker rights, did not intend a secular society – only one in which one had the freedom to seek religious truth without persecution.

      November 2, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
    • Moi

      Hear Hear!

      November 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  20. Jason E.

    Ambivalent and ambiguous – you go, girl!

    November 1, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
1 2 3
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.