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My Take: Stop using churches as polling places
The author says that churches that act as polling places can sway voters.
November 6th, 2012
09:19 AM ET

My Take: Stop using churches as polling places

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Church • Church and state • Politics

soundoff (1,507 Responses)
  1. smartaz

    Voting in churches is the only way you can securely keep vampires from voting.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Well, they sure don't keep out people who believe in magic.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Dude

      You are repressing the rights of the "Life challenged". What next? Deny werewolves the right to marry?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  2. Rynomite

    "Many churches and other houses of worship have taken stands on these issues and lots of others, which is their prerogative."

    I disagree. Churches are not taxed. If they want an opinion on political issues, then they should cough up some of the money they bilk from their victi...er parishoners.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • smartaz

      So, by that logic, if you don't pay an income tax like a portion of Americans don't, then you shouldn't have an opinion either. Maybe they shouldn't get to vote either.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Dude

      Jesus paid taxes. Why doesn't the Pope?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • MCR

      No smartaz, the people who don't pay income tax as individuals are doing so mostly based on their income level: students, retired, or paying through having low wages (employer pays taxes out of profit). A nonprofit organization gets a special exemption, regardless of income, in return for meeting a list. of requirements.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Rynomite

      Smartaz – While you were trying to make a snarky point that MCR addressed, I actually agree. People who don't contribute to society should not be allowed to vote.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • tiny

      If people that don't contribute to society can't vote there goes half of Obamas support!

      November 6, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Samuel

      Dude, I am pretty sure you are joking, but just in case you were serious at all... the pope is not a US citizen and therefore does not pay US taxes.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Honest John

      If corporations are people, why not other organizations like churches or PETA?

      November 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  3. Huebert

    I can't wait for this election to be over.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Dude

      It's almost over. Take a few deep breaths in a paper bag, preferably a paper bag full of pot smoke.

      By tomorrow either Ross Perot or Ralph Nader will be president and you can go back to live your life.

      There, isn't this so much better than reality?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Bet

      I'm tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney! Wahhhh!

      November 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Honest John

      Dude, either one of those would be an improvement frankly when compared to the choice we have today.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  4. Will

    This argument will never be resolved. Why? It is an excuse.

    1. My polling place is in a church and literature is passed out both in support of and against the positions taken by the church. There is a concerted effort by individuals outside the polling place to provide information about their opinions and beliefs to all voters entering. This would negate in my mind the argument that people will be unduly influenced by "church literature" because in my polling place there is actually a disproportionate amount of opposing literature so if voters are truly influenced by the literature they would lean against the conservative position.

    2. The argument is circular. The article asserts that by living close to a "house of worship" or stepping inside people have some special activation that causes them to lean towards more conservative values rather than people who live near a public or government building. If voting in a church causes votes to lean conservatively while voting in a public or government building causes votes to lean more liberally, what is the solution? Voters are being mislead and violated in either case if you truly believe the argument is valid.

    3. What are people afraid of? If a person is truly non-religous then a church is just another building to and holds no significance. If said individual is not secure enough in their own beliefs that they feel they will be swayed simply by stepping into a building that they believe holds no significance, that is a completely different issue.

    Think about it. If this phenomenon was accurate, wouldn't the bible belt states where most polling places are found in churches lean and vote overwhelmingly conservative? The opposite happens in my state. I suppose the influence of the church on the voters stepping inside is failing in some places but not others?

    November 6, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Charles

      I agree. Good thoughts. Wonder what the fuss is all about. We vote by mail, haven't set foot in a polling place in years.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Draeggo

      Obviously Will... you just don't get it as demonstrated by your theatrical post. It's not about what YOU want... its about what WE want. What part of separation of Church and State do you NOT understand?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • elephantix

      @Draeggo The only difference is Will is providing a thoughtful explanation, and yours is a two-sentence statement that carries no real thought beyond "this is what we want." A 4-year-old can say and demand what he/she wants, but mature thinking offers something more. Will refutes the author's argument, so you should provide a better one.

      November 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  5. Reality

    My Take: Stop using churches for anything !!

    And why is that??

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • smartaz

      I hate for them to go to church and waste their time when it could be better spent wasting it on these message boards.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Reality

      No religion, no CNN Belief blog – mission accomplished.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  6. unknown11

    Having all the liberal nutjobs in a school is a security risk. Better to let them enter a church where our children are not put at risk.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • TAK

      Riiiight. Because no priest has ever harmed a child...

      November 6, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  7. Mark

    I am a pastor of a local church and our congregation welcomes the opportunity to serve the local community by hosting voting on elections days. In NC, where we are located, the site is required to be neutral in that there are no signs posted or pamphlets laid out or anything of that nature that would unduly influence a voter. I assume this common sense approach is required by law or election rules in every state. Mr. Lyns examples of "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." must be the exception not the norm. The election officials that coordinate the voting and monitor would not allow such things; at least not in N.C.

    I just walked over to the area of our campus (a gymnasium) where the voting is taking place and the only signs on the wall that are church related are about the locations and times that religious education classes meet and a poster for Operation Christmas Child. There is no signage or posters that are trying to persuade anyone to vote one way or the other. I do not hesitate to propose that this is the norm in the vast majority of religious facilities where voting is held. Mr. Lyn's scenarios are possible but highly unlikely because of the monitoring done by election officials

    Again, it is a service of the local religious community to host voting. We do it gladly and without coercing anyone.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • W247

      Thank you and your church for being a welcoming non-partisan place to vote!

      November 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  8. niknak

    And while we are at it, all religions need to lose their tax exempt status.
    I live in the middle of church/temple/mosque central. We just got all our property retaxed, and of course it went up, even though our houses have all lost heaps of value.
    I am not salty that much, as I understand that police, fire, streets, garbage, schools etc need to be funded and that sheeet ain't cheap.
    But I am salty that all these "houses of worship" don't have to pay a dime for any of that and get a free ride on the tax payers backs for it all.
    As most religious people tend to be reblican, and republicans tend to want everyone to pay their own way, then you religious republicans should be the first ones to say churches should start to pay their fair share.

    I know you won't. You are hypocrits to no end. You want government to fund YOUR projects and what you think is good, but everyone else who is not lily white and xtian can starve to death for all you care.

    You jeebus followers would be the first ones to re-crucify him if he did come back and try to preach his "unconditional" love for all.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • W247

      My recommendation to you is to actually get to know what the churches in your area do for the community in your area. I would rather have our churches pay taxes just so we don't have to listen to people whine about churches not paying taxes and we can be completely seperated from the state and independant. "GIve to Caesers what is Caesers" you know what I mean?

      November 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  9. Tony

    Because voting in union-run public schools is such a great idea.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  10. Lainie11

    The author states, "As churches become more aggressive", excuse me, but it's the anti religion atheists who have become so aggressive. If you don't like the USA and how we do things, then go to another country. People came here for religious freedom. The Supreme Court has the 10 Commandments on it's building. I'm sick and tired of the atheists and their ilk, ruining our country, a Judeo-Christian country at that. Because religion places restrictions on the actions of atheists, in their humanist thinking (they are their own gods), they try to impose a liberal thought process on the rest of us. Get lost Mr. Lynn.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      LOL, look up images for the phrase "Help, we're being oppressed" in your google search.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Tara

      So you oppose people trying to force their views on you. Interesting. I hope you vote in a manner consistent to that belief, because I think you'd find that liberals and atheists feel similarly. :)

      November 6, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • LittleHero

      And how would you feel if you had to vote in a mosque?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • LinCA

      @Lainie11

      You said, "The author states, "As churches become more aggressive", excuse me, but it's the anti religion atheists who have become so aggressive."
      Atheists may have become more aggressive, but only because it is well past time to achieve true freedom of religion.

      You said, "If you don't like the USA and how we do things, then go to another country."
      If you like to live in a society controlled by religion, I hear Iran is pretty nice this time of year.

      You said, "People came here for religious freedom."
      Then why are you trying to force yours on society?

      You said, "The Supreme Court has the 10 Commandments on it's building."
      Let's get a chisel. It's time to stop favoring one religion over any other, or the lack of one.

      You said, "I'm sick and tired of the atheists and their ilk, ruining our country, a Judeo-Christian country at that."
      May I suggest you get an education. The US isn't, never was, and never will be, a "Judeo-Christian" country.

      You said, "Because religion places restrictions on the actions of atheists, in their humanist thinking (they are their own gods), they try to impose a liberal thought process on the rest of us."
      No, you fucking moron. You are free to believe whatever bullshit you want. You are free to believe in the Tooth Fairy, for all I care. You are free to hold your infantile beliefs. What you don't get to do, is expect anyone else to just as deluded as you are. You don't get to force your mental illness, or any of its restrictions, on the rest of society.

      You said, "Get lost Mr. Lynn."
      Get a grip.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • sam stone

      It's our country too, b!tch

      November 6, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Jeff

      Lainie11, The Supreme Court Building was started in 1932 and completed in 1935. The building was designed when the ridiculous idea of prohibition was in full swing. The founding fathers had nothing to do with the design of the Supreme Court building. Plus, if you know about the Supreme Court building, the first four commandments, which have to do with honoring God and the Sabbath, were obscured by the artist who designed the frieze. The Supreme Court itself has ruled that ten commandments should be removed from court buildings.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Lainie11

      Wow, I haven't seen something so full of things that are just completely wrong since I saw Ray Comfort trying to prove the existence of his god.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • OTOH

      Lainie11,
      " The Supreme Court has the 10 Commandments on it's building."

      There are carvings of Zeus and Minerva on the building too.

      The 10 Commandments being there is sort of exotic, but in fact:

      1: Have no other gods – NOT A LAW
      2: Make no graven image – NOT A LAW
      3: Don’t take the name in vain – NOT A LAW
      4: Honor the Sabbath – NOT A LAW
      5: Honor thy father and mother – NOT A LAW
      6: Thou shalt not kill – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY (long pre-dated it)
      7: Thou shalt not commit adultery – huge number of Christians commit adultery by LEGALLY remarrying
      8: Thou shalt not steal – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY
      9: Thou shalt not bear false witness – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY
      10: Thou shalt not covet – NOT A LAW

      November 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • shermanist

      Lainie...You are truly hilarious. The concept of xtian victims is a more half-baked idea than the idea of your mentally-deranged ghost who supports genocide, homicide, infanticide, r@pe, and slavery while needlessly demanding affection and attention from the supposedly more moral of society. It's funny how, after centuries of persecuting, enslaving, murdering, torturing, displacing, and overpowering everyone under the sun, you are going to claim the athiests are the "aggressive" ones. It's called secular karma numbnuts. When a dictator falls, the people that supported the dictator can't claim instantaeous persecution simply because they lost all the previously usurped freedoms, laws, and benefits that were used against the "others."

      Let me also add that my family resided in the U.S. before it was a country and we have served to protect it against every enemy, foreign and domestic. More than likely, you're a second generation European moocher. How about if you take your sorry @ss and family, who more than likely haven't contributed nor sacrificed anything for my nation, back to the POS territory you came from. This country is not judeo-xtian and never has been despite your people's incessant whining. Try picking up an American history book from the library or is that too socialist for you. The fact that I protect your right to vote while protecting the rights of true Americans who understand the importance that civic responsibility is sickening.

      BTW...I am my own god. I'm responsible for my actions, I can't pray wrongdoings away, I don't need to talk to imaginary friends for comfort, I am accountable to society, and I don't restrict the freedoms of others strictly based on words written by a crappy carpenter and a bunch of illiterate goatthumpers from 2 milennia ago.

      If you feel so perssecuted, you should nail your sorry @ss to a cross and be done with it.

      November 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • numbnut

      Shermanist: I love you, man.

      November 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • JJ

      Shermanist, I wished I had written that. The part about a dictator is spot on. My family arrived on this continent in 1646.

      November 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  11. Mike Tanner

    ...my regular polling place is in a church....first, the polling place is located in a meeting room...not the Worship Hall....may as well be in a bank....no 'churchiness' involved...plenty of parking....easy access....used to be at a bank....parking issues abounded....I think you are just nit-picking.....nothing better you could be doing with your time?

    November 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Pete

      I never set foot in a church unless I am voting, and then I like the fact that all I have to do is walk across the street to vote.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Ann

      Actually, that sounds fine. It's not the church property that's inappropriate, it's the setup of the room. School gym at a parochial school would be fine, too. I just don't think voters should be waiting in the pews with all the candles.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  12. traybay815

    My church is used as a polling location. We do not put anything in the gym that might "sway" someone to vote one way or another. I agree that there should not be politicking in the polling areas, but I also don't think it would be fair for a church to have to cover items up (crosses, stained glass, etc) just because they might "offend". I mean, my polling location is an assisted living home, what if I was afraid of old people? Should they all have to stay in their rooms? I don't drink, but if my polling location was in a bar I would go in there and cast my vote!

    As for the people that are persuaded, why didn't they just make up their minds before going to vote? I know who I am going to vote for and how I am going to vote for the amendments on the ballot, and no signage or posters would change that.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Ann

      Again, it has nothing to do with being offended. I think some religious art is beautiful (though much is too gory for little kids to be exposed to). It's about influence.

      Let's look at a completely different example. Suppose there's a referendum on the ballot about - oh, let's come up with an environmental issue. (And don't pick on my details, I'm making this up)

      Company X has been polluting Lake Y with chemical Z. There's a referendum to ban the use of chemical Z in the area. Okay, so let's hold the election on the shore of Lake Y! It's a convenient, public place (let's say there's a civic center that can hold the voting machines). Let's have all the voters get in line past the environmental display, showing before and after pictures of all the wildlife and the effects of chemical Z. Heck, let's even have them walk by cages of examples – cute little squirrels with deformed tails, pretty birds - you get the picture.

      If you were on the board of Company X, would you feel that you were getting a fair election?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • traybay815

      Ann,

      Thank you for your kind reply. I'm always scared to post because I don't want to be attacked.

      I definitely understand what you are saying. I guess I've never been in a church with gory art, as a matter of fact we don't have any pictures, statues, etc at all. I think it is wrong for a church to intentionally display pamphlets, etc in polling areas to try to sway voters. I live in Georgia, I'm not sure if that is an issue here or not. I just look at voting at a church (or anywhere for that matter) as walking into a building and casting a ballot. Like I said, I've already made up my mind before I vote, but I guess some people are still trying to figure out what they believe up until the last minute (kind of like those people that stand in line at McDonalds for 10 minutes and still don't know what they want to eat when they get to the register). I know that in Georgia you are not allowed to campaign at all within a certain number of feet around a polling area. As a matter of fact we usually pull up a few election signs that are in our church office's yard just so it doesn't look like we are telling people how to vote. I think maybe other states should make a rule stating that no pamphlets, posters, etc are allowed in the voting area just to keep it neutral. People shouldn't vote based on their environment, they should vote based on their own beliefs as to what is best for their city/state/country.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Ann

      When I mentioned gore, I was thinking of crucifixes, stations of the cross, etc. It's a pretty bloody story, and some of the art can be pretty literal. To be fair, I'm sure kids see worse on TV.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  13. Oscar Pitchfork

    The economy didn't just crash under a Republican president, it crashed under Republican policies. It crashed with low taxes. It crashed with deregulated markets. It crashed with huge restrictions on union activity. It crashed with massive cuts in environmental regulations. It crashed with lowered trade barriers. It crashed with big fat Pentagon spending.

    They got what they wanted. They got CEOs with no limits on their wealth. They got banks with no limits on their "creativity." They got trade agreements that guaranteed manufacturing could be moved to the dirtiest, cheapest, most desperate source available. They got massive cuts in capital gains taxes and equally large boosts in the wealth they could pass along in estates. They got everything they said would make us all wealthy. They got record oil and gas drilling. They got record giveaways of public land. They got everything they said would create jobs. They got the middle class to shoulder more, more, more of the burden so that those beautiful job creators would be free to work their magic.

    They can't say the economy crashed because taxes went up, because they didn't. They can't say that the economy crashed because there was a raft of new regulation, because there wasn't. They can't blame it on "union thugs" or Saul Alinsky or the guy who writes Happy Holidays cards at Hallmark. They can't blame it on a president who was elected when the world was already in free fall. Only, of course they do. They say it because they have no choice.

    For the same reason that they have to maintain that global warming is the creation of a conspiracy of scientists, and that evolution is a conspiracy of other scientists, and that gay marriage is a threat to "traditional" marriage. They have to lie about the threat of illegal immigrants. Lie about the state of the national debt. Lie about the effects of the President's health care plan. They have to lie, because lies are all they have left.

    They certainly can't admit the truth about the economy. They can't admit that they did it. Own it. That their policies directly caused the worst economic failure in American history. Strike that. Make it "the greatest failure in American history since the last time that these same policies were tried." But then, they've been lying about that bit of history for years.

    The truth is that the Republicans have nothing to offer. Not even anything that looks like a governing philosophy. Conservatism has moved out of the ranks of political theories and simply become a cult; one that requires that certain phrases be mouthed, that certain hatreds be nourished, and that purity be maintained regardless of cost. That schism with reality is increasingly large and increasingly obvious. They try to paper over that gap by dismissing little things like science, reason, history. Real science fails to support their contentions, so they have to write it off. Reason doesn't work for them, so any question must be met with red-faced indignity — every question a gotcha question. Real history is full of warts, quirks, and unfortunate truths that don't fit their ritualized beliefs. So they have to try to rewrite history, giving us rewrite Reagan who never raised a tax or increased a debt, rewrite FDR who created the issues he actually solved, rewrite Lincoln who championed the Confederate cause, rewrite founding fathers who never owned slaves, never supported government regulation of the economy, never wavered in their ardent love for a form of religiosity that didn't yet exist. Tricorner hats are the new tinfoil.

    The real danger isn't that someone might listen to the Republicans—anyone who lies long enough and loud enough can always find an audience, especially when that someone has three quarters of the television media and ninety+ percent of radio. The danger is that we might forget that they're lying. Too often Democrats, including this president, have felt that the best way to handle Republican fantasies is to compromise with them. You can't compromise reality, no no matter how loud the lies.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • smartaz

      yay wall of text

      November 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • W247

      "yay wall of text" – probably the best comment yet.. ( BTW I didn't read the wall of text, they need to learn how to state their opinion in a direct, succint way.)

      November 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  14. Sailor101

    Geez people get over yourselves. Waahhh your (you now what) hurts! I pitty you fools!

    November 6, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  15. Gray

    I voted at a church this morning. Our government is supposed to have seperation from church and state. What a joke.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Bev

      Maybe it's like having AA meetings at a bar?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  16. mr. reality

    Brilliant.

    lets set up polling places at the MOST racially and economically divided organizations in the country... CHURCHES

    where racial integration is unheard of and care for others different than yourself is not allowed.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • smartaz

      Churches shouldn't be used as polling places, but your opinion is wrong on every other level.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  17. helenolai

    What is the big deal? If someone is intimidated and influenced by a location, I question their intelligence.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Ann

      It's not about intimidation. Advertising WORKS. That's why corporations spend so much money on it. You may not think you're being influenced, but you are.

      No displays that might attempt to influence a voter's opinion should be allowed anywhere near the polls. Campaign workers are not allowed to pitch their point of view to you while you wait on line. That line, then, should not be formed next to a rack of pamphlets all about "choose life" or whatever.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Huebert

      Then question your own intelligence. The The fact that an environment has an effect on an individual is well doc.umented. Especially if the environment is one typically associated with authority, such as a police station or a church. The effect is subtle but it is present in virtually everyone, only the strength of the effect varies. Milgram and Zimbardo, demonstrated the effect with two very famous studies.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • hoosier1234

      . . . or their guts.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Bob

      Helen, your post puts YOUR intelligence in question.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  18. Sane Person

    I'd go one step further and argue that religious people shouldn't be allowed to vote.

    November 6, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • christopher hitchens

      Less than 1% of the population have your viewpoint. Over 80 % are religious. In a democracy numbers matter, you are an 80 to 1 loser. Why should anyone give a sh it what you think.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • GAW

      It's a good thing you're not in control.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wouldn't say that people who are believers shouldn't vote, but most of the idiots here like Ronnie/chrissie/Prissy/captain azzhole who are zealots and trolls ought to be required to take an IQ test and at least score in the triple digits to be permitted to cast a vote.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Sane Person

      Over 80% can't think for themselves

      November 6, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Huebert

      @Chris

      Do you have sources for your numbers?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Tom's point is fair, imo. Why should you get to vote if you're stupid? I don't know if the test should be of the IQ variety, though.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, Moby, that was just a suggestion.

      It will never happen, of course, but I do wish that the rabid nuts who truly think Obama is Muslim and believe other nonsense should be weeded out of the electorate.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Rynomite

      Tom – We should go back to the way the Roman republic did it. Income based. While Income is not necessarily an indication of intelligence, there is a very strong direct correlation between the two.

      In Rome, people were divided into voting blocks based on income. Each voting blocks vote counted as one. If you were wealthy, there were fewer people in your voting block so your vote counted for more. If your income was so low that you were considered "head count", which is basically people who got subsidized grain (government handouts) then you did not get to vote at all.

      Romans correctly believed that government exists to protect property and only those who have some should be allowed to participate.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Bob

      @Rynomite:
      A real plutocrat, aren't you?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  19. Ann

    Wow, I've never heard of having a church used as a polling location. That's completely inappropriate.

    Of course it's too much trouble for them to de-religion the place for one day – some of those crosses are huge, and what about the stained glass windows? Cover them up? - but if it's not allowed for any other group to display "ads" at the polls, they have to go by the same rules. And they won't. So they shouldn't have the voting there.

    November 6, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Sailor101

      Oh the wicked, wicked crosses, no not stained glass windows..my eyes, my eyes....oh noooooo statues of Jesus...I'm burning, I'm burning! What a bunch of wimps! You all are discracefull loosers!

      November 6, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why? Because they disagree with you? It's "losers," by the way, moron.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Ann

      Uhh, calm down. I said nothing about them being wicked, or about being afraid of them.

      However, they are very powerful symbols which are INTENDED to influence people and create a certain mood and atmosphere. That is inappropriate in a polling place. Polling places should be neutral. What's so bizarre about that idea?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • fintastic

      I agree with you Ann. Considering we have separation of church and state in this country, I think it's VERY inappropriate.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • CJ

      You're obviously thinking Catholic churches. In my experience, it's usually not those – though I have seen it. My polling place is at a Methodist church, in the lobby (not the worship space) and looks no different from the lobby at my work or a public library, excepting the directional signs to other rooms, and the church's schedule. I have previously had polling places at two different Southern Baptist churches, which both were in classrooms used for bible school and had been stripped bare. Again, not in the worship space. When i was in high school (at a Catholic school), we did have one at the school, but it was in the lobby of the monastery (where the monks who ran the school lived), not even in the same building as the chapel.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 6, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Huebert

      Just tell me when you are ready to test that claim. I will be glad to help.

      November 6, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • christopher hitchens

      @hubie
      No one needs your help or your test, in fact the day you leave this earth the world will become a better place. If God has not chosen you why would anyone else want you.

      November 6, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Huebert

      Are you afraid of what a test would reveal?

      November 6, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • nope

      @hu...
      nope

      November 6, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • christopher hitchens

      No fear -not a test, your test you are not needed, never have been.

      November 6, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Huebert

      If you have no fear why wouldn't you want to test your claim? If you are right a simple experiment could go along way toward supporting your position. Why won't you engage in one?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • christopher hitchens

      No one has any use for you, hubie.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Ting

      Here is something from the real Hitch.

      “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

      November 6, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Chrissie: wrong. Huebert has challenged you; you've folded like a cheap suit.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Huebert

      Weather or not you have a use for me is irrelevant. Support your claim or be dismissed.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • christopher hitchens runs away crying...

      Wahhhh, wahh.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • fintastic

      @chrissy............."If God has not chosen you why would anyone else want you."

      Simple answer to your question..... there is no god, it's just fairy tales and mythology.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Imagine No Religion

      So Ainhfcaolt, have you ever threatened YOUR children with eternal dam nation? I haven't, but I'll bet you have! Why won't you answer the question?

      Prayer changes nothing.

      I've repeatedly challenged you to take the George Carlin Prayer Test. Pray to your imaginary god friend for a month, then pray to Joe Pesci for a month. You'll find the percentage of prayers answered by god, and those by Mr Pesci, will be about the same (50/50). Have you taken the test? If so, please report your results.

      Are you a real live troll, or nothing more than a xianbot?

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RT6rL2UroE&w=640&h=390]

      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      November 6, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Bob

      @Atheism..
      You mindlessly post this in response to all articles in this part of CNN. That makes you nothing but a troll. Please stop unless you have soething useful to contribute.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • raises hand

      CH: Actually, *I* have a use for "Hubie" and people like him–people who are rational and calm and ask a simple, straightforward, logical question in order to advance discussion and understanding. On the other hand, I have no use for people who, like you, simply state the validity of their beliefs, in a snarky, unhelpful manner, without any meaningful defense of those beliefs.

      Actually, Huebert, if you're looking for a test of the "power of prayer", they've been done. Or at least one that I'm aware of. Without going into specifics–and this will shock you, I'm sure–the results were negative. And by negative, I mean not only that prayer had no impact, but in fact the impact was negative. The "targets" of the prayer were hospital patients, and those who knew they were being prayed for actually got worse than the control group. The others being prayed for showed no difference.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
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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.