Polling Place in Evangelical Church

i just sent this inquiry to FFRF. What do the rest of you think about this? Is it acceptable for our County to designate such a place as an election site when secular sites are readily available?

“Hi, and a HUGE THANK YOU for all of your amazing work in state-church separation, including in my town (I belong to a FFRF chapter in Grand Rapids, MN and recently attended FFRF’s annual meeting in Madison…wonderful). I’m writing to ask why my polling place in Itasca County can be an evangelical church. Mine is First Evangelical Lutheran Church, whose website states “…every word in the Bible is true and without error. We also believe that all the facts related in it are absolutely true and without error (infallible and inerrant).” There is a public (school administration) building within a block of that location with adequate space to host the election activity. I find it distressing that voters are surrounded by evangelical Christian symbology and messages while voting on matters such as the right to gay marriage. Isn’t this likely to have a chilling effect? How can this be constitutional? The County would undoubtedly contend that all voters have the option to go to the courthouse to vote instead…but still this seems WRONG.”

6 thoughts on “Polling Place in Evangelical Church

  1. I agree, FSM. The churhes have so politicized themselves that walking into a polling place in a church is a bit like walking into a Republican Party district office to cast a vote (and it would be equally problematic if the churhes had cast their lot with the Democratic Party).

  2. I’m sure there have been legal challenges on this topic, but I’m not sure of where things stand. Have you gotten a reply from FFRF? If I get a chance I might search their website to see if there are references to the problem. Threatening the county on another state/church violation might be nice. They certainly jumped out of the way on the prayer vigil issue.

    • I appreciated that FFRF did take the time to reply. This was the main part of their response: “The state of the law on polling places is not encouraging, but many of our members have been able to change church polling places to secular spots by personally complaining. We have more information here on suggestions for dealing with this issue as a local voter: http://www.ffrf.org/faq/state-church/church-polling-places/.

      Church polling places should be free of religious imagery (or religious materials/brochures/etc). If this particular church contains religious imagery or messages, or the church is permitted to exploit the location (hand out literature, etc.), we may be able to take action if you document and send us the information.”

      I will follow that link for their suggestions, and also take photos if anything seems out of line when I vote next, in the primary…

  3. Churches are only buildings. The occupants are entitled to post their own brands of rubbish on their bulletin boards, etc. When we enter their premises as voters, it’s at least impolite to expect them to hide everything out of fear of offending someone. If they mingle with voters for the purpose of proselytizing, that makes it an entirely different matter. The churches pay no taxes on their property, so the County may be smart to take advantage of some of that “free” space for voting precincts.

  4. While I’ve never had a requirement to go to a church to vote, I don’t think I would mind it even though I think it is a constitutional problem. I have had the need to go inside a church now and then for things like kid’s dance lessons, funerals and weddings and our current conversations with the Presbyterian Church folks. I actually have come to like it in so far as that it gives me a chance to find out what they are doing or thinking.

    A lot of what I see in posters, pamphlets, notices and signs are all the things that seem to be merely platitudes and halfhearted calls to be “more holy” or something. It all seems a cover to let folks who merely come for a community of friends a way to pretend that they are doing it for higher reasons. You would think the friendship would be enough, but that must seem too worldly and sort of self-centered. You have to swear allegiance to the dictator in the sky. Maybe that’s so your friends know you’re safe or something.

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