Editor’s note: The Rev. Barry W. Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
By Barry W. Lynn, Special to CNN
I live in Maryland, where we have a lot of controversial questions on Tuesday's ballot, including referenda on marriage equality, the rights of immigrants and the expansion of gambling.
Many churches and other houses of worship have taken stands on these issues and lots of others, which is their prerogative. Although federal law prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing candidates, they have the right to speak out on ballot referenda and on other issues, from abortion to zoning.
All of this church-based political activity makes me uneasy about casting ballots in houses of worship, especially those festooned with political signs. And yet today, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of churches around the country are being pressed into service as polling places.
At Americans United for Separation of Church and State, we get a steady stream of calls about this phenomenon every election season. Some complain of being forced to cast their ballot in a house of worship when there’s a nearby public school, library or community center that could just as easily act as a polling place.
Casting a ballot in a church? Tweet us about it
We shouldn’t dismiss these concerns as whining from an overly sensitive band of people who are religion-phobic. These concerns are legitimate. And some intriguing studies even suggest that voting in a church might influence voters.
The American Humanist Association, which filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against voting in churches in Florida, cited a recent Baylor University study published in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion that found that people in the Netherlands and England reported more conservative views to a pollster when in the vicinity of a church.
“[The] important finding here,” said the study’s co-author, Wade Rowatt, “is that people near a religious building reported slightly but significantly more conservative social and political attitudes than similar people near a government building.”
My Take: On Election Day, I’m proclaiming loyalty to Jesus
An earlier study by Stanford University reported a similar effect. “Voting in a church could activate norms of following church doctrine,” said Jonah Berger, a Stanford researcher. “Such effects may even occur outside an individual’s awareness.”
In Maryland, this might mean that an on-the-fence voter facing the marriage equality question might be pushed to vote no by something as simple as a sign or pamphlet in the church/polling place. Such material might even affect a soft voter’s candidate choices.
How is this possible? Psychologists call it “priming,” the idea that even subtle visual or verbal cues can affect human behavior.
More studies need to be done to validate and explain this phenomenon. In the meantime it would make sense to avoid using churches as polling places. Neutral sites should always be preferred.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
There are other reasons to skip casting ballots in the basilica.
I’ve talked with people who describe their unease voting on an abortion-related referendum in a Catholic church, where they may be surrounded by posters depicting abortion as a grisly holocaust. Others say they don’t want to back an abortion-rights candidate in a church that is known for anti-abortion activism.
No public library, public school or town hall would display such material next to the voting machines. No government building would have a towering cross in the voting area.
My Take: Charting Bible’s ‘GOP’ words
Many of those who have contacted us about this have reported that churches will not remove this material and that pastors argue that they have a right to keep it up.
As churches become more aggressive in the political arena, the argument that they can be neutral sites for voting, a concept that has been embraced by some courts, comes up short.
I’ve even talked with atheists, Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians who don’t want to exercise a basic constitutional right in a church. These people have nothing against Christianity; they simply don’t believe that a fundamental democratic right should hinge on their willingness to enter a church. (And yes, most of the houses of worship used as polling places are Christian churches.)
People who support using churches as polling places often point to the need to maximize the number of polling locations to increase turnout. That’s a laudable goal, but there are many ways to do this that don’t rely on using churches, like early voting and voting by mail.
Imagining the first Mormon White House
For those who prefer to show up in person on Election Day, there are plenty of schools, libraries, town halls and civic centers to meet the need for polling centers. In small towns and rural areas, well-known commercial sites would make better polling places than churches.
If there is absolutely no other option than voting in churches, I recommend that election officials make it clear to officials at the church that they must play by the same rules as every other site.
That means no politicking inside a certain zone. And the area where the voting occurs should be cleansed of all religious symbols and political material. The voting area should be as neutral as possible.
Voting is every Americans right, some would say duty. Let’s do all we can to avoid making people feel unwelcome at the ballot box.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Barry W. Lynn.
مما لا شك فيه أنني يتوق للاعتراف أن ترتفع لتكون وسيلة لأننا نقدر للمساهمة جميع المجيدة كنا عرضه هنا. كزة بلدي الإنترنت الموسع وعلى الفور تم الشهيرة مع استراتيجيات كبرى لتتجاوز مع أصدقائي ، وكذلك الأسرة. سوف نظهر التي معظمنا الزوار أساسا وقد كرست مما لا شك فيه أن توجد في قرية واضح مع معظم الناس حقا غير مخفف مع تلميحات مربحة. نحن نشعر حقا أن يكون مدينا الكشف عن صفحات الويب الخاصة بك وكذلك سلوك وقح لمعظم ذلك بعض أكثر الاحتفال الاستثنائي دقائق من كتلة هنا. نحن نشكر مرة أخرى للحصول على تفاصيل كل شيء.
Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !
Where do morals come from?
By Kelly Murray, CNN
Gravity is not up for debate !
BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !
Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet..............................E = mc2..........(U–Pb).................two math formulas.
Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before
Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.
The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?
The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species
Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.
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Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young
And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !
From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life
the wrong path is Adam and Eve !
Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought
Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.
No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US
Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.
No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !
Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History
Apr. 23, 2013 — Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.
Ca-nabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) – National Cancer Insti-tute
Mar 21, 2013 – [1,2] These plant-derived compounds may be referred to as phytocannabinoids. ... have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. ... In lung cancer cell lines, CBD upregulated ICAM-1, leading to ...
Good stuff !
The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !
Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle
Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.
For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !
Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.
Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’
Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
bears his name as the “God particle.”
Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \
Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...
April 7th, 2012
08:32 PM ET
The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Make sure to read comments
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NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.
NASA: Mars could have supported life
Star Dust we are
Holy Hallucinations 35
The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !
Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.
BBC. Planet of the Apemen. Battle for Earth 1. Ho-mo Erectus
BACKFILL on E =mc2.....
Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.
“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
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Cheech & Chong's History of 420
Cheech & Chong's History of 420 from CheechAndChong
All cults...........creationists, ID believers and devil cults.................
The fact...............the earth is to old ...........time to EVOLVE !.
Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.
Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.
Education works for children
Earth From Space
Detailed satellite images reveal the web of connections that sustain life on Earth. Aired February 13, 2013 on PBS
"Earth From Space" is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth. Viewers witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast submarine "waterfall" off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world; and how the sun's heating up of the southern Atlantic gives birth to a colossally powerful hurricane. From the microscopic world of water molecules vaporizing over the ocean to the magnetic field that is bigger than Earth itself, the show reveals the astonishing beauty and complexity of our dynamic planet.
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The church where I cast my ballot during the primary election had Bibles stacked up on a table at the entrance.
Most polling places where I live are either churches or school gymnasiums. So far, I have not had to go to a church to vote, thank goodness. However, if a church was my only venue, I would be very disappointed.
This has always bothered me, too. The polling place I worked at this past election was a Christian church, and it was mildly uncomfortable for me to walk in there. Especially in today's economy, when there are so many malls – either contained malls or strip malls – with vacant shops, and other vacant commercial buildings. Why not set up a system whereby the owners of said mall and commercial buildings get a small tax deduction for agreeing to host a polling place on election days?
Churches should be allowed as poling places. And the Presidential election result should be announced by a puff of smoke out of the chimney ;-)
HYPOCRITES!!: Religion & Politics is like oil and water! Separation between church and state? Not any more! DEFINE where you voted at a church? I voted at a church, BUT, it was in their gym, and had NO religious items in it! NO, I do not support that if you vote at a church they should REMOVE any religious items! Maybe cover them up but not remove! NO, I do not vote based on someone's religion! I vote based on how I feel the person could HELP! YES, I would vote for a law that would remove a church's tax exemption for preaching personal political agenda's, etc.. I go to church to be refreshed, motivated, and to hear a GOOD sermon, NOT political agenda's! YES, I would vote for an atheist, IF I thought they were the best person! Lets keep religion where it belongs! And YES, I disapprove, TOTALLY, of all these so called "do gooders" that want to infringe, intimidate, and even try to force THEIR personal agenda's on me!
Are the christians out here willing to acknowledge that Obama winning a 2nd term is god's will?
no, this is the part where us evil people have free will to vote against the godly candidate.
Our poll was at a church. I voted there in the primary and was not offended by it. They had an auditorium that easily held ten machines, no one threw a bible at me, no biggie. For this general election I voted early at the library and it was no different than voting at the church.
I voted in a church and somebody DID throw a bible at me, figuratively speaking. As I was leaving, a church member approached me with printed materials and began proselytizing. I complained to the Board of Elections. I still haven't received a response, or even an acknowledgement from the board, but I guess since that board happens to be the Palm Beach County, FL board, I shouldn't be surprised.
I found the cross to be repulsive at best. If our polling place is going to be in a church next time, I will opt to mail in my ballot. As a free American I should not have ot subjected to a symbol of hate, ignorance and mental illness.
To millions, the cross is a symbol of love. You have decided that for you, it is a symbol of hate, ignorance, and mental illness. Is it up to society to remove everything that someone may find to be such a symbol?
(It is a fact that "Christianity is a form of mental illness" is not a fact, but only your opinion.)
to me the crucifix is a symbol of bigotry, suffering, censorship and tyranny. so i under your concerns
The only time a cross looks good is hanging on a chain between a girl's enormous rack. If I was juhaysus on that cross, I'd be gettin wood!
"I found the cross to be repulsive at best. If our polling place is going to be in a church next time, I will OPT IN TO MAIL MY BALLOT. As a free American I should not have ot subjected to a symbol of hate, ignorance and mental illness."
–Well, looks like this guy brought up an issue and then shut it down in the middle of his own sentence.
I'm the same. To me the cross is a symbol for a slow and agonizing death – never love.
Reblogged this on Thinking & Driving and commented:
Every polling station I drove by seemed to be a church. And while I agree that it's not the most appropriate place, what is the alternative? Close libraries, schools, and fire stations on election days?
Why would you need to close a library for this? I suppose it depends on the library. But yes, close schools. Maryland closes its schools for election day. Before someone chimes in, Maryland public school were just voted #1 for the 4th time, so 1 day off school isn't going to negatively impact anyone. Aside from that, even if it did have some slight negative impact, voting is the most important aspect of our citizenship and should be treated as such.
I've voted at schools several times, and none of them were closed. The school library was used in each instance. I've also voted in community centers, apartment lobbies, and even a neighbor's garage. I've only had to wait more than 5 minutes once – about half an hour in the apartment lobby.
Megan, for schools that had not closed, I believe there was some concern over violence and so apparently some school poling places were moved to churches. In a perfect world having all those strangers around students doesn't seem to be too big of an issue, but we're far from that, and when it comes to kids it is better safe than sorry. First, I don't see why giving the kids off 1 day would be a big deal, and second voting shouldn't even be on Tuesday any more anyway, which would negate the entire issue with using schools which could be used on a weekend.
Vote at McDonalds, there's one on every corner
You could hold elections on a weekend.
Election day is not a school day in New York City, either, which allows those buildings to be used as polling places and there's no need to use churches or any other non-government buildings. Upon moving to Miami I was stunned to find that my designated polling place was a church. I guess the separation of church and state is not valued as much down here. The area where the voting took place was fairly neutral, but it was a small room with an inefficient bottleneck. School auditoriums and gyms make much better polling sites.
Wow! Not only did Romney lose and the Senate went Democrat by a larger than expected margin, but two states legalized recreational pot and and two others legalized gay marriage.
Tea Party Jesus really got his butt kicked!
Maybe the Tea Party should consider changing name to Pot Party and focus on legalizing marijuana. They'd get more traction that way.
I voted at a church today. It was 7pm when I arrived. It was an LDS church. This church had a lot of cars in front of it and a long line of voters waiting to cast their ballots. No one was rude, no one tried to convert me to their religious or political beliefs. There was no bishop or priest or whatever they have for their spiritual leaders trying to convert me. The people manning the polls had been there since 6am. They were volunteers and still cheerful and friendly. No one paid them. The coffee was free. The electricity was free. The purpose of voting at a church or a school or a mall or even a auto repair garage (yes, they voted there in some of our smaller towns) is simply a conveniently located and large area for voting machines or booths for Americans to cast their vote. America has become so thin skinned about other people's opinions or beliefs that we cannot even allow ourselves to do the most mundane and simple things , albeit an important thing such as voting, without worrying about offending someone. If a grocery store had a cross or some other symbol of their creed displayed would you drive to the other side of town to buy your milk? Sometimes things just make sense because it works and it's convenient. Not because someone is trying to convert you or cause you to think or believe their way. If you are that easily swayed or offended that is your own problem. Go vote, buy your groceries or underwear because it's the best place to do so and go home. Simple. No need to make a mountain out of a mole hill. So many more important issues and things to be concerned about. Come on! All of you. Get over yourself.
Would you be so open-minded about voting at the neighborhood Planned Parenthood clinic, or the mosque down the street, or th very convenient porn theater just right over there?
No? C'mon Dianna! Just get over yourself!
Just because people at the church you voted at behaved themselves doesn't mean everyone did, or will.
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.