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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. caw

    I voted early for the primary reason that my voting district votes in a church. I am an Atheist. That's like making the Christians go to a strip club to vote....now there's an idea.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • callywag

      VERY good comparison, "caw!!!"

      November 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Agree 100%. Any place would be better than an abhorrent church.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • caw

      I was tempted to first say 'make the Christians go to a Mosque' but decided that would have been.....wrong since I am against all organized religions.

      That is a good question. Are there Mosque out there being used as voting centers?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • MG

      It seriously offends you to walk into a church to vote? I'm an atheist too, but I couldn't care less that i had to vote in a church this morning. Hell, it wouldn't have bothered me if they made me vote from the pulpit. So far, I'm not having any negative side effects after the experience.
      Just curious as a fellow atheist, why would you be offended or have a problem with this?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • MG

      Oh, and I'm all for the strip club idea.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • caw

      MG...yes it does offend me to HAVE to walk into a church to vote. I would also be offended to have to cross a field of cowsh!t to vote as well. Then again it's about the same thing in my opinion.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  2. I try but...

    This article is right on. I tried to vote for Obama this morning in a local baptist church. As soon as I walked in there powerful electricity washed over my head and I filled in the oval for Romney! How did they do that? Those dastardly Christians! I look forward to the day when atheists will be in charge and everything will be peaceful and right with the world. Just like how the atheist Soviets did it!

    November 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • The same (but opposite) thing happened to me...

      Wow. This is freaky. The exact same thing happened to me! but in reverse. I set out to vote for Romney today - who really could support the scallywag Obama. Unfortunately for my candidate my polling place is in a library. The temple of the state overwhelmed me with it's power and I realized the error of my ways. Big government is the way to the promised land; I knew what must be done. I blackened (I'm not being racist, that's what it's called) the oval and slid it into the box. My newly found savior will be re-elected.

      We really should discontinue polling in public libraries.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Bet

      I had to go to the library to vote too.

      While I was waiting, I picked up a couple of books, one was called the bible and another called the book of mormon. They both had stories about a superhero who sees everyone and controls everything. They had angels, gold tablets and a land you go to when you die where everyone is happy, happy. All you have to do is read the book and do exactly what is says, and you'll get whatever you want. But, you can't disagree with the superhero about anything, even when he does stuff that's really, really mean, like kill all the people, even babies and animals in a flood. if you don't believe in the superhero, or you make him angry, you'll go to a bad place with fire, raggedy clothes, and a mean red guy with a big poking stick. The problem was, I didn't know which of those books was right, the one with the magic underwear or the one with the zombie guy who is really three guys in one. There were more books about the superhero but he had a different name and different rules in each one. Almost all of them said that I should either kill or at least be mean to anyone who didn't believe in their superhero or, worse yet, in any superhero at all. I tried to find some proof that would show to me which was the right book to go by, but there wasn't any! It was really confusing!

      Then, I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of books that were about "Science". Astonishingly, they had these things called "facts" in them that were proved by stuff called "data" and "the scientific method". I read things in these books that were proved to be correct by observation and controlled investigation. I threw the superhero books aside in relief and used my very own brain to decide which people and ballot measures I thought were right. Then I went to Baskin Robbins and bought an ice cream cone.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  3. David from Nor Cal

    Voted in a church today, first time I've entered a church since.....well, the last time I voted in a church.

    Amazing, I agree with a minister! And his reasons are very good ones as well. I personally could care less as I see a church as any other building and have no "invisible man in the sky" phobia, and could give a damn what the church puts up or stumps for at the site, but it would definitely have an effect on some.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  4. bikerchick777

    Voted in a church this morning. The voting does not take place inside the sanctuary, but in the common areas of the church, such as the "family life center", gymnasium or cafeteria. No visible signs that we were even in a church, once inside.

    Voting in a school should also be a "neutral" environment, but often, it is not so. Saw a photo of a polling place inside a school today that featured an enormous mural of Obama covering an entire wall of the room where the voting machines were placed.http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/06/judge-issuing-order-to-reinstate-booted-philadelphia-election-officials/

    But here's the thing, regardless of where you vote, a church, a school or a library, you might encounter a religious symbol or a painting of the president and if simply seeing that symbol or image causes you to change your vote, then obviously, subconsciously, you are still on the fence about a particular issue and almost any type of stimulus that you associate with a particular issue could be influencing your vote. Should we ban voters from wearing red or blue clothes to the polls, or perhaps require that not only should polling places not be inside churches, they should be at least a mile away from the nearest church? Perhaps if the ballots include races for school board members, we should not allow polls to be inside schools that year? The whole premise of this type of thinking is nuts. If you are influenced by a religious symbol, then obviously, you had some religious upbringing or association with religion long before you got to the polls.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • callywag

      Not sure what you're trying to say...so you point out that at a school is a mural of Obama, but a church building with signs everywhere reminding people how Romney stands on abortion, gay marriage and gambling isn't persuasive at all????

      November 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Yeah, this is what I don't understand about the bellyaching: people are not voting on the altar or normally going in the main church door.
      In my urban neighborhood, I don't think it's even possible to come up with a sufficient number of voting places that aren't churches. I voted in a senior center, and another one I passed on the way was a school... and up the road are another senior center and two schools. But the one between was in a former school now used as a Catholic women's crisis pregnancy center. There just aren't enough public buildings. And in an urban area that should actually be easier.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • bikerchick777

      Callywag: The church I voted at had NO signs of any kind. Then only signs were campaign signs of both parties, put up by both parties, out on the road in front of the church. My point about the school with the mural of Obama was that obviously, the school supports Obama, so if an organization leaning liberal or leaning conservative (i.e. a church) means that polling should not take place in their building or on their property, then we would be hard pressed to find enough polling places for people to vote.

      Personally, I would not care if I was required to go vote in a strip club, a bar, a grocery store, a mosque or a hindu temple (we have a really nice hindu temple not far from me). Stepping foot inside any one of those buildings does not magically change my belief system, intimidate me to the point of changing my vote or scare me so badly that I cannot bear to go inside.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  5. callywag

    Why do people that scream for anti-abortion laws, send people to war? Hypocrites!!!!

    November 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Topher

      The two have nothing to do with each other.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You only believe that because you're a hypocrite, Gopher.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • callywag

      @ topher...how do the two have nothing to do? You CAN'T kill an unknown creature, but you can send a human with a life full of experience, loved ones and a soul to not only BE killed but to KILL others....hmmmm

      November 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Chris

      Slight difference. A fetus doesn't volunteer for abortion, whereas soldiers volunteer for service and know, full-well, that they will probably see combat someday.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Topher

      One is an innocent life and thus murder. The other, at least if the war is just, is killing, not murder. The first is a personal attack on that individual. The second is likely against another government and not personal against the guy you are shooting at.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • aaron

      There actually seems to be some co-relation. The anti-abortionists usually support any war and the death penalty. They're all for life not being ending in the womb, but don't give a rat's butt what happens to the person after they're born.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • callywag

      awwww gopher, how nice that you can justify murder in war just because a government told you so. Isn't THAT helpful. So right now the government is telling you that (roe vs wade) abortion isn't murder. Why aren't you obeying that? Hypocrite!

      November 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Topher

      The government is wrong, just as they can be about war. I don't blindly follow government. So if they say abortion isn't murder, they are wrong. What else can you call intentionally ending the life of a baby?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • callywag

      I'll say it again gopher...you're a HYPOCRITE!!!! Why is the government only wrong now when you decide it is, but I can't say it's wrong to declare war as legal murder????

      You are a mindless drone.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Which God?

      I it's funny when idiots like tooher spouts on about people shooting at each other, when he has no fvcking clue what it's like to be shot at. Moronic fundy.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  6. Shake

    Churches smell like old people and I don't like it. Is that OK with you?

    November 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  7. Standford

    The good Reverend is wrong; the law is not enforced – “federal law prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing candidates”. Not only are many pastors advocating from the pulpit; actually it’s much worse. I know an elderly lady whose children sent her pastor to house to pray with her and warn her that Obama was The Anti-Christ and the end times would follow if he were elected in 2008. Since that didn’t happen – they get to try again this year!

    November 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Katie

      Many churches take stands. They can take all the stands they want, but they can't take action, which is what too many churches want to do and some of them are very blatant about it – threatening people's salvation or whatnot. Once they do that they lose all separation status and they should have to pay taxes and declare all their income and donors to state and federal government.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  8. Evangelical

    I don't understand why the majority of atheists on this board are so anti-Romney. You said so yourselves, and I agree, that Romney is not a Christian. You don't have to worry about a big bad Christian in the White House. So why be anti-Romney? Could it be because he upholds family values?

    November 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Why bother asking? It's not like you're actually interested in real answers or discussion.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Jenny Porter

      How does Romney uphold family values more than President Obama? I think President Obama has great kids, a great wife and he seems like a great dad. Who gave you the right to say that Romney is superior? Mormons are NOT all about family. I grew up in one and if you really want stats on UT divorce and domestic abuse rates WITHIN mormon families, google it!

      November 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Yes, exactly Evangelical. That is why.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Mittology

      Policies – repeat Bush II.
      Flip-flop on every political issue.

      His religion is as stupid as the next, so I don't care about that.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Anyone who defends or champions morality is an enemy of the immoral.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • The Truth

      Does anyone know when the term evangelical began to mean deluded grifter? For me this was in the early 90's after Sam Kinison left the Church and exposed it for what it is, an elaborate con game.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Eva, I've already told you that I don't care what religious beliefs either candidate has as long as he's 1) smarter than you and everybody else here 2) knows that this country isn't a theocracy and doesn't attempt to make it one and 3) qualified to do a better job of governing than the other guy.

      And as for "family values" you dip wad, if you mean being opposed to gay marriage and a woman's right to make her own medical decisions, that figures into my vote as well. I don't vote for candidates who see women as second-class citizens who can't figure out for themselves what is best and I don't vote for hom0phobes who use the bible as an excuse to withhold rights from others.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @sortakinda

      Don't you mean whoever disagrees with you is an evil immoral person, because you have faith that you're completely right and don't care what anyone else thinks. And that all those people who disagree should just shut up and follow your religious edicts because of some fantasy you've built up around your worldview?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      Atheists don't want a Christian nor a Mormon in the white house.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      sortakinda,

      Who's morality? Yours? Why?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Anyone who defends or champions morality is an enemy of the immoral."

      Anyone who claims that their morality is superior to others is an imbecile

      November 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • callywag

      I'm not an Atheist, but I sure don't want a mormon in the White House. Do you want someone that believes he will become a GOD to run the country????? Megalomania at its best!!!

      November 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Mormonism is a cult- FACT

      "Could it be because he upholds family values?"
      .
      First you are not an Evangelical. 2nd you are obviously a Mormon. This is the common line they train Mormons to say. When faced with the reality of the flawed founder and religion..they can only respond with this. Its not about family values it is about the truth of the origins of your religion. IT HAS ZERO integrity. The founder was a con-man and common criminal.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Abraham

      I don't know, because knowing what a candidate believes about the world we live in says a lot about their character, and Mormonism is even wackier than run-of-the-mill Christianity.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Bet

      No, Eva, it's because he's not very bright, he supports denying equal rights to all americans, he supports the government making medical decisions about women without their consent, he's clueless about what it's like to live as a non-millionaire, and because it scares me to think about this imbecile having his finger on the doomsday button.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Katie

      Of course Romney's a Christian. Only really really ignorant people insist otherwise – and why they cling to this ridiculous notion, I'll never know. He belongs to the Church of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ. See the name there – Jesus Christ? That's where the term "Christian" comes from. People who follow the preachings of Jesus Christ are Christians. That's Catholic, Orthodox, all the Protestant sects, and all the non-denomination places that have sprung up, large and small, including the Billy Graham and Oral Roberts and all mega-churches AND Mormons. You may not like their sect, you may not agree with their sect, but it's a religion just like the one you adhere to. Calling it a cult doesn't change anything – ALL religions are also cults. Muslims and Jews are NOT Christians, but they are "people of the book", meaning they also follow doctrine written in the Old Testament of the Bible. Buddhists, Hindus, Shintus, Pagans, Wiccans, and people of other religious persuasions are not Christians but this does not mean they are not religious and it does not mean they have no faith. They just have a different faith. Atheists do not believe there is a God but many of them claim to be spiritual. Agnostics don't know if there is a God and don't care one way or the other.

      And another ignorant assumption by many supposed Christians is that Jesus founded his own religion. He did not, and never intended to be anything but a good Jew. Christianity was formed by his disciples who survived his death – mostly by Paul, who never even knew Jesus. (And Christ means king or messiah, BTW.)

      That said, I consider myself a Christian but I don't go around with my nose in the air looking down on other people (because that is NOT what Jesus would do) and I DID vote for Obama. Obama embodies the preachings of Jesus – he wants to look after the elderly, he wants to help, and he wants to take care of the sick. THAT's what Jesus would do.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Brian

    Why stop there? No voting in buildings with any red or blue paint.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Much ado about nothing.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Which God?

      I'm sorry Brian, were you trying hard to make an intelligent statement? Please try again.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  10. Bill from GA

    Let's just end voting for National Elections.

    Whoever can collect the most money wins. And the money is put into the National coffers, No refunds. (And no campaign ads!!)

    November 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  11. binreal

    As a follower of Christ, I STRONGLY believe in the separation of church and state - but I do not see a problem with holding a polling place in a church, as long as the same is extended to other religious worship sites and no religious literature is anywhere within the polling station.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bet

      Maybe we should have all polling places in synagogues and mosques then, and see how quickly the christians howl about that.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  12. Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

    WHY A CHURCH SHOULD NOT BE A POLLING STATION.

    Every follower of truth absolute GOD, foundation of America, feels uncomfortable entering a place negating truth absolute GOD and American consti tution, such as a Church, dungeon of hinduism, illegality, decorated with sign of hinduism, racism, cross, not belonging to America, but of hindu Lucifer, filthy self centered, secular.Celebrating hinduism, illegality, way of hindu's, criminal's, one has to be a hindu ignorant or borne in hind, filth of hinduism, ignorance, way of hindu's blinded, not living but mentally dead.
    Word hindu is driven from latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. to learn source of hinduism, racism, way of hindu's, criminals, please visit limitisthetruth.com.
    DEFEND YOUR hINDUISM, ILLEGALITY, hINDU'S, DENIERS OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD, hINDU CRIMINALS SON'S OF HINDU LUCIFER, CRIMINAL SELF CENTERED, INVENTORS OF HINDU, FILTHY JUDAISM, ATHEISM AND SECULAR ISM, HINDU'S, LOW LIFE CLAIMING TO BE CHILDREN OF MONKEY'S BY THEIR hINDUISM, ABSURDITY OF EVOLUTION.
    DEFEND YOUR hINDUISM, CRIMINALITY hINDU HOTO'S IN PUBLIC, IF YOU HAVE ANY TRUTH IN YOU

    November 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Hindu ism absurd sandwich etc.

      word fondu is based on Latin word dippity doo, hot gooey, chips, great, chip dip, to be in greatness, pita chip, to be creamy to both of them, fondu, a noun in yummy, fonduism, way of yumminess.

      Visit dippingisfun.com to learn about fonduism, deliciousnessity of fondu's, deliciousness to impose fonduism, veggie dipping on humanity by fonduism, cheese skin of truth absolute by dipper. Be a dipper, not a fondu, lactose intolerant like a fondu, double dipper.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • DW

      You do realize Hinduism predates whatever dose of batshix-crazy you're on, right?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

      sure hinduism, illegality existed among humanity and truth absolute was reviled to humanity to live like human being, with in limit of truth absolute, like human. Thus hinduism, illegality of hind, dark ages have no place in civility, way of human.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Clay

    Be afraid of that big, scary church on the corner. It will eat you while you innocently cast your vote. I have an idea: Why don't you think those places (churches included) that volunteer their space for you to vote. Words for the unwise: Thanking is harder than hating.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Fuck those creeps. I don't want to be on the same side of the street as a church. Ewww.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Topher

      Apple, dude, wht are you so angry?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Mittology

      Do they promise not to molest any children?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • NOPE

      @TOPH:
      NOPE

      November 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Apple

      Dude, you either have some pretty deep seated issues, or you're a poe trying to make atheists look bad. Tell me, which is it. I'm an atheist, and sometimes a pretty strong anti-theist, but your vitriol goes beyond that into just plain ridiculousness.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Topher, why aren't you? You have been lied to and abused all your life, yet your willfully ignorant.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Topher

      I guarantee you I've not been abused (except for maybe a school-yard bully or two) but what do you think I've been lied to about all of my life?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @hawaiiguest

      I have a phobia about churches. They creep me out to the point of being physically ill. You may find it amusing by I do not. I have on more than one occasion crossed the street to avoid walking to close to a church. The smells, the textures, the vibe. It all feels so wrong, like a nightmare to me. It is not pleasant my friend. And I don't feel I should be forced to vote is such a repulsive place. I would rather vote in the sewer.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Topher, brainwashing little children is child abuse. Lying to children is abuse. Taking a child's birth-given reasoning skills is a crime.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Apple

      And a phobia, by definition is an irrational fear, and is not a reasonable reaction to the subject of the phobia. We cannot make laws and prohibit things based on a phobia, so it goes against constitutional democratic principles to do so, as you seem to be advocating. There are reasonable alternatives to voting in the church, which you have used (early voting). You may not like it, but your irrational fear of churches should not be the basis of a prohibited practice.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Topher

      Apple Bush

      None of which has happened to me or any of the children in my church.

      If you are an atheist you should not have any fear of a building.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @hawaiiguest

      I never said law should be based on my phobia. But that does not mean it is ok to make people go into churches to vote. Voting should be 100% seperate from religion. Period. My own personal issues with it would be satisfied by the sensible conclusion of this practice.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Just askin'

      @Apple Bush

      Now that you've shown how militant and anti-church you are, we're all impressed.

      So why are you on a Belief blog?

      Feeling sick to your stomach? Feeling physically ill? Try logging off and being angry all by yourself.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Topher

      1. Of course you and all the children of your church have been and continue to be mentally abused. It is logical to believe otherwise. There must be a reason, and that reason is the obscene practice of religious indoctrination.

      2. For me, there any plenty of reason to be afraid of churches. Would you eat food that makes you gag? Nor would I. Churches are physically repellent to me. The smells, the textures, the echo of horrible hymns. The promose of lies and cult practices.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Just askin'

      Typical of a Christian, your solution is to take away my rights because I don't agree with you.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Topher

      Dude, forget the buildings for a minute ... do you believe in any kind of an afterlife?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Topher, I find it quite impossible to believe in something that is unknowable. This is another example of you deluded reasoning skills based on the mental abuse you have been subjected to.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Topher

      So you're agnostic?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      No Topher, I am an atheist.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • caw

      Think the places?

      though I presume you mean THANK them, why should I. They are built by TAX FREE dollars. They are supported by TAX FREE donations.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Topher

      But you said it's unknowable. How can you be so sure there isn't a God?

      November 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Topher

      It is impossible to know if there is a god. I don't believe there is however, because there is no evidence.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      He's an agnostic atheist. The two are not mutually exclusive. If you don't know this, I would recommend realizing that there is a difference between knowledge and belief.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  14. Frederick G. Wilkes

    Wow.

    So I read this article because I think to myself, "Hey, this morning it's nice to see a church give back to the community by hosting the polls." and I was curious what possible objection anyone could have.

    The article was of little worth.

    And then the comments. For a belief blog, I'm amazed at the number of hateful, spiteful comments from bitter, cynical atheists and bitter, cynical people who call themselves Christians.

    I'll leave you people to your online "community" of trolls. Meanwhile, I'm going to thank the church on the corner for opening its doors, and I'm going to thank the volunteers who ran the polls.

    Peace.

    Once I'm gone, you can go back to spitting your venom at each other.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  15. Fred Finkel

    Schools also take a stand on issues so if you eliminate churches you need to eliminate schools. Idiot.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Fred Finkel, you are not getting the concept here. Thanks for trying.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • sally

      Lol. thanks for sounding like a Fred Finkel [insert my loud annoying snortling laugh here]

      November 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  16. Frank

    In my district, my city, my state, nothing pertaining to a candidate or issue can be withing a prescribed distance of the voting area. I have never seen a violation of this rule, and have voted in several church buildings.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  17. Bman

    Proof that churches brain wash people.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  18. Uhhhh...this is a waste of time

    I dismiss these concerns as whining from an overly sensitive band of people who are religion-phobic. These concerns are not legitimate.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      It is very wise to be religion-phobic. The loonies want to take what is not their's.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Uhhh....the writer is religious. Believe it or not there are many believers who want to keep a seperation between church and state, as a matter of fact if you look into the history of the concept, it was believers who promoted it.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  19. Doug

    If you dont vote in churches then you shouldnt vote in government buildings either. The nanny state wants to replace traditional religions with their own brand. Vote for me and i will take care of you. (cross fingers behind back now)

    November 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Doug, you are always wrong, but this post doesn't even make sense.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  20. Doug

    you lost me at "Atheists have nothing against Christianity". If atheists are so confident that there is no god why do they spend so much time fretting about other peoples thoughts, they should dismiss as lunatics and move on.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Because these lunatics won't leave us alone. I don't even have a sensible atheist to vote for, and on top of that, I have to vote for a religious loon IN a church!

      November 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Excellent point

      Doug for President! I agree, it's really such an ironic thing to fight to prove the existence of nothing but if this nothing (God) exists, why in the world would you be worried about casting a vote in a church that worships nothing. Get over it and cast the vote and move on.

      November 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Beliefs inform actions and christians love to try and make others conform to their beliefs, until that stops neither will we.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • The Truth

      I spend no time fretting about what you believe Doug. I do spend time fretting about the effect that your mental disorder will have on my 3 yr old daughter. The fact that you and your ilk will expose yourselves and your beliefs to her in school is unsettling to say the least. The fact that you and other persons with similiar mental diseases are taking positions of power in government and society so that you can bend your deluded will on public policy and education makes me very worried for her safety. But as to spending time fretting about what you believe Doug, I spend about as much time worrying about the people in mental hospitals who think they are Abraham Lincoln...

      November 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Topher

      The Truth

      But you are OK with exposing your beliefs to my children?

      November 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You mean like equal rights under the law, being open to new ideas, understanding science? You mean those ideas? As far as I know those ideas aren't limited to atheism, Gopher. They're part of being educated.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • The Truth

      "But you are OK with exposing your beliefs to my children?" The only thing schools should teach are observable phenomenon and peer reviewed science that has testable facts. As for evolution that I am sure you are refering to, biological evolution is an observable FACT you moron. As to what started it all, whether big bang or a God F.art I will be fine to leave that to philosophy courses in college but we can leave that out of the grade school education.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Topher

      I'm perfectly fine with leaving evolution and/or creationism OUT of the schools. I'm talking more about liberal social issues.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • The Truth

      Liberal issues just like global climate change is an observable FACT that should not be refuted without substantial science done to prove it's not happening, not just 1 out of 1000 scientists who happens to have his work funded by a variety of conservative groups claiming it's all a hoax. The same goes for evolution. You idiots cling to the one or two still religious scinetists that tickle your ears and tell you what you want to hear.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Topher, why would you leave evolution out of schools? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Topher

      The Truth

      You and I might not be too far apart on climate change. I'm talking about gay marriage and abortion.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Topher

      Topher

      Apple Bush

      Because there's a difference between micro evolution and macro evolution. One is observable and we see it happening. The other (Darwinism) has zero evidence for, though is taught to our children as fact.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Eh, even "peer-reviewed science" is a bit beyond what kids are going to encounter at the school level about which an atheist parent might be concerned. It's going to be dumbed-down, and dumbed-down dilutes the claim to a commitment to teaching only "observable" phenomena.

      Does this excuse creationism, no. Climate change is a complicated issue, so it is potentially easy, if a Koch acolyte or a Jeremy Rifkin gets ahold of the curriculum-writing process, to get a bad educational result on either side.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • The Truth

      "I'm talking about gay marriage and abortion."

      Here's the thing about these issues and school. You want schools to teach that being gay is unnatural. I don't want schools to teach anything to do with relationships or marriage, that is not their role. I do agree with teaching biology and s.ex education which doesn't need to include anything about "love" or "relationships" at all. I don't have to know every detail of a white tail deers mating rituals to understand the principle involved in their procreation. This can be explained along with contraceptives to prevent unwanted (see also uninformed) pregnancies but we do not need to discuss with very young children abortion and how there can be exceptions for r a p e and incest, those conversations are for more mature children and should come from their parents who think they are ready to discuss those topics.

      But to teach that being gay is unnatural or abhorant is claiming that you are right and taking sides against your fellow Americans and their children trying to shame and guilt free Americans to believe like you do or to believe in your brand of deity who hates "the gays".

      November 6, 2012 at 6:33 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.