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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. Chad

    A. It is simply impossible and should not be a goal, to divorce the reality of the God of Israel from our decision making processes and government
    B. Churches have been used as polling places for centuries, further evidence that it was NEVER the intent of our founding fathers to to divorce the reality of the God of Israel from our political activities.
    C. The framers intent of the first amendment was two fold:
    first: Prohibit an establishment of an official religion of the US
    second: Prohibit the free exercise of any religion.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Go fu*ck yourself AND swallow some Draino please.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Andy

      You are nuts. Did you read what you wrote? Wrong on several counts.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Huebert

      A. The God of Israel is logically inconsistent and therefore does not exist.
      B. Same as A. Additionally our founding fathers were deist and did not believe in the God of Israel
      C. I don't know how to respond because your statement (SLJ Voice) DON'T MAKE NO GOD D@MN SENSE!

      November 6, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "...the reality of the God of Israel..."
      This is an unfounded assertion.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "Churches have been used as polling places for centuries, further evidence that it was NEVER the intent of our founding fathers to to divorce the reality of the God of Israel from our political activities."
      Actually, the founders didn't speak to polling locations, that was left to the states... and still is.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • ChardWatch2 Electric Bugaloo

      I can't believe the Chard said:

      "C. The framers intent of the first amendment was two fold:
      first: Prohibit an establishment of an official religion of the US
      second: Prohibit the free exercise of any religion.

      LOL – I'm sure he didn't intend that... too funny.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Chad

      @Huebert " The God of Israel is logically inconsistent and therefore does not exist."
      @Chad "please demonstrate how"

      =========
      @Huebert " Additionally our founding fathers were deist and did not believe in the God of Israel
      @Chad "please provide evidence for that statement.

      ===========
      @ME II "...the reality of the God of Israel..." This is an unfounded as sertion."
      @Chad It is an as sertion, but it is certainly not unfounded: creation of the universe, fine tuning of the universe for the building blocks of life, The origin of life on earth, Punctuated Equilibrium: the fossil record showing species experiencing millions, 100's of millions of years of stasis (no change, random genetic mutations are weeded out of the gene pool resulting in a pool 'wobbling about the genetic mean'), followed by extremely rapid change resulting in new species appearing fully formed in the fossil record. The empty tomb, and the unshakable conviction among followers and enemies alike that they had witnesses a resurrected Jesus. A conviction they held so strongly that they went to their deaths proclaiming its truth.

      ===========
      @ME II "Actually, the founders didn't speak to polling locations, that was left to the states... and still is."
      @Chad "exactly :-)"

      ======
      @ChardWatch2 Electric Bugaloo "I can't believe the Chard said: ...Prohibit the free exercise of any religion."
      @Chad "D'oh!

      should read "govt will make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion"

      November 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Huebert

      Chad

      You won't accept any evidence for A so I won't bother. B however, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison, the father of the const.itution, were all Deist. Deist believe that God wound up the universe and let it run. They often refer to God as a "Divine clock maker". They do not believe that god interferes in the world in any way. In other words, they do not believe in miracles, in the resurrection, or in Jesus's special divinity. The god that Deist believe in is nothing like the God of the bible.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • YoozYerBrain

      Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies." [Thomas Jefferson]

      "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma." [Lincoln]

      November 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      Most of what you mentioned doesn't even support a supernatural deity, let alone a specific "God of Israel".

      "The empty tomb..."
      What empty tomb?

      "...the unshakable conviction among followers and enemies alike that they had witnesses a resurrected Jesus. A conviction they held so strongly that they went to their deaths proclaiming its truth."
      People have been willing to die for unfounded conviction before and since. So, unless "Divine Wind" (Kamikaze) pilots convince you of the truth of Shintoism or Muslim suicide bombers convince you of the truth of Islam, your fanatical "followers" are of little evidential consequence.

      Your imbecilic grin not withstanding, much of the Consti.tution was a delineation of Federal vs. State powers and had nothing to do with religion, so by not specifying polling locations they satisfied both Federal limits and the "wall of separation".

      November 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Chad

      @Huebert "Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison, the father of the const.itution, were all Deist. Deist believe that God wound up the universe and let it run. They often refer to God as a "Divine clock maker". They do not believe that god interferes in the world in any way. In other words, they do not believe in miracles, in the resurrection, or in Jesus's special divinity. The god that Deist believe in is nothing like the God of the bible."
      @Chad "nonsense
      it simply can not be denied that all three of those specific individuals believed that God was a Providential actor in history responsible for American independence
      There can simply be no other interpretation of the references to God as the author of human liberties, and from whom the benefits flowed.

      It is simply impossible to cast their beliefs as "God wound up the universe and thereafter never intervenes".

      =======
      @ME II "What empty tomb?"
      @Chad "the one that Jesus of Nazareth was buried in"

      =======
      @ME II "People have been willing to die for unfounded conviction before and since."
      @Chad "True, however, and this is the critical thing that you always conveniently "forget", NO ONE DIES FOR SOMETHING THEY KNOW IS A LIE, which is what you would be imputing to that situation. If the apostles knew that Jesus wasnt really resurrected, they will willing to go to their death for what they knew was a lie. An impossible contention.

      =======
      @ME II " so by not specifying polling locations they satisfied both Federal limits and the "wall of separation"."
      @Chad "???
      when exactly did the "wall of separation" get defined? Sounds like you dont realize that is not anywhere in the consti tution and that notion was a later idea.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Huebert

      Chad

      "Deism holds that God does not intervene with the functioning of the natural world in any way, allowing it to run according to the laws of nature that he configured when he created all things"
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism#Deism_in_the_United_States

      Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, And Benjamin Franklin were explicitly deist. I'm sorry but your interpretation of their writings is incorrect. Now these men may have believed that natural laws bend the arc of history towards liberty, but they did not believe in an intervening god. Jefferson wrote his own copy of the bible removing all mentions of miracles, the resurrection, and Jesus's divinity. To claim that Jefferson believed in the God of Israel is nothing short of revisionist history.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Chad

      LOL

      the problem with atheists trying to re-write history,, is there is just so much available!!! :-)

      John Adams
      2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

      "Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be." John Adams

      "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event." Thomas Jefferson

      "Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. Benjamin Franklin

      "That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them. Benjamin Franklin

      November 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      And what you constantly ignore is that it doesn't matter how many people write about it, the fact remains is that our Constitution does not name this as a Christian nation, and in fact prohibits the government from naming a national religion, or imposing a single religions doctrine on the rest of the country. You're just pulling out irrelevant quotemining idiocy, and everytime you're called on it, you continue with the same thing. You do the same when asked to provide evidence for your god.

      In short Chad, you're just plain pathetic.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Chad

      I forgot James!!!

      The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it. James Madison Letter to Rev. Frederick Beasley (1825-11-20)

      A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest while we are building ideal monuments of Renown and Bliss here we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven. James Madison Letter to William Bradford (9 November 1772)

      Behold you, then, my dear friend, at the head of a great army, establishing the liberties of your country against a foreign enemy . May heaven favor your cause, and make you the channel through which it may pour its favors James Madison

      November 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Huebert

      Chad

      I see that you are pulling from David Barton, the roundly rejected revisionist historian, who's book, The Jefferson Lies, was voted the lest credible book in print by the History News Network. Sorry Chad, It is your side doing the revising, you are just reversing the accusation to try to weasel your way out of it. Sad that you would stoop to such dishonesty. Good bye Chad, I have nothing more to discuss with you.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Yes Chad, continue to show how worthless you really are. Continue to show your complete inability to follow any kind of basic logic. Your useless quotes will continue to reinforce your false idiocy, and you will continue to ignore the obvious irrelevancy of it to preserve your little bubble of a worldview.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "the [tomb] that Jesus of Nazareth was buried in"
      ... and which tomb would that be?
      You claim an empty tomb as evidence but do not specify the tomb, nor any evidence that it is the tomb in question, nor any evidence that what you claim happened in said tomb actually happened.

      "If the apostles knew that Jesus wasnt really resurrected, they will willing to go to their death for what they knew was a lie. An impossible contention."
      Incorrect.
      1) Memory is not exact and many people can be convinced, by themselves or others, that what they think they saw is what actually happened.
      2) Many people are willing to die for a lie, if they think it is for a better, or "higher," purpose. Many people lie for the "greater good" and will maintain that lie unto death for the same reason.

      The stories of the apostles' persecutions and deaths, if true, only attest to their level of belief, not to what they claim to have seen nor what may have actually happened, which may be two different things.

      "Sounds like you dont realize that is not anywhere in the consti tution and that notion was a later idea."
      I was not saying that the founders intended to satisfy the "wall of separation" specifically, only that their words, or lack thereof, did manage to satisfy it. Additionally, while the phrase itself didn't show up until Jefferson's letter, the concept was not new.
      "The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704)." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state, not that wiki is a primary source, but it can be a good start.)

      November 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Chad

      @hawaiiguest "the fact remains is that our Const itution does not name this as a Christian nation, and in fact prohibits the government from naming a national religion, or imposing a single religions doctrine on the rest of the country"
      @Chad "umm.. I agree :-)

      ======
      @Huebert "I see that you are pulling from David Barton, "
      @Chad "ummm.. actually, no.

      Since you didnt actually look any of them up to see if they actually were citations from Barton, rather you just guessed (wrongly) :-)

      here are the sources, note that NONE are Barton :-)
      sorry about that..

      Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Volumes 1-4: Diary (1755-1804) and Autobiography (through 1780)
      en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Madison
      http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/john_remsburg/six_historic_americans/chapter_4.html

      November 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      And yet your original post says that governmental decisions should be made with the assumption of the god of israel being real, which one would naturally assume would mean biblical decision making. You cannot be on both sides of the fence (sounds like a Romney position to me) when it comes to seperation of church and state.

      November 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Chad

      @ME II "You claim an empty tomb as evidence but do not specify the tomb, nor any evidence that it is the tomb in question, nor any evidence that what you claim happened in said tomb actually happened."
      @Chad "The tomb that Jesus was buried in :-)
      see the Gospels..

      The reason why "Jesus was never buried in a tomb" was discarded long ago as a viable potential theory and no serious historian today embraces it, is because it lacks the ability to explain the origin of the disciples belief that they had encountered a physically resurrected Jesus. It fails to explain the early Jewish reaction to the disciples claim of a resurrected Jesus (namely that they accused the disciples of stealing the body, not that there was no empty tomb),and it fails to explain how a movement based on a physically resurrected Jesus could survive in the face of that same body being in a grave somewhere, buried by Roman soldiers following the crucifixion.

      @ME II "Memory is not exact and many people can be convinced, by themselves or others, that what they think they saw is what actually happened."
      @Chad "the reasons the "hallucination theory" was discarded long ago as a viable explanation are many:
      - the witnesses were on many different occasions, and by believers, non believers and in one case by a persecutor of the church (saul/paul).
      - it fails to explain the origin of the belief that the followers came to believe that they had not merely witnessed an apparition, or vision, rather they had witnessed a physically resurrected person.

      =======
      @ME II "Sounds like you dont realize that is not anywhere in the consti tution and that notion was a later idea."
      I was not saying that the founders intended to satisfy the "wall of separation" specifically, only that their words, or lack thereof, did manage to satisfy it. Additionally, while the phrase itself didn't show up until Jefferson's letter, the concept was not new. "The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704)." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state, not that wiki is a primary source, but it can be a good start.)
      @Chad "LOL
      A. The actual writings (as opposed to your attempts at revisionism) say something dramatically different. See above for examples.
      B. There are many concepts that have earlier origins (monarchies for example), that doesnt mean the founding fathers embraced them
      C. you should actually read the letter that Jefferson wrote http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/baptist.htm
      I think you'll be shocked to realize that Jefferson wrote to as sure them that they would not be legislatively targeted on the basis of their religious beliefs.

      and such still are; that religion is considered as the first object of legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights; and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those who seek after power and gain under the pretense of government and religion should reproach their fellow men–should reproach their order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dare not, as sume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ.

      surprising eh? Not what you expected :-)

      November 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Chad

      Here is the actuall letter from Jefferson in which the phrase "wall of separation" was first coined.

      Letter to Jefferson: http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/baptist.htm
      His response: http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html

      quite an amazing bit of revisionism to have construed that "wall of separation" to somehow mean "thou shall be no mention of God in any public doc ument"

      amazing..

      November 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • ME II

      Your imbecilic smile notwithstanding, no it's not surprising you would use such weak arguments.

      "see the Gospels..."
      The Gospels are not evidence.

      I didn't suggest that "Jesus was never buried in a tomb." I'm simply pointing out that, other than the NT, you have no evidence of a resurrected Jesus and stating "the empty tomb" isn't evidence either.

      I didn't suggest a "hallucination theory." I'm simply pointing out that even eye witness testimony is unreliable, not to mention hearsay.

      "the witnesses were on many different occasions, and by believers, non believers and in one case by a persecutor of the church (saul/paul)."
      Again, the Gospels are not evidence. (And Saul/Paul wasn't actually a witness was he.)

      "it fails to explain the origin of the belief..."
      I don't need to explain the origin of a belief. Whether a child believes in the Easter Bunny or not is immaterial to whether or not it actually 'hopped down the bunny trail'. You need to show evidence of the event.

      "A" Whether James Madison, personally, believed or not, is immaterial, he, along with the other founders went out of their way to separate church and state.

      "B" But the founders weren't building a Monarchy, were they? And John Locke's work was influential in writing the Consti.tution, e.g. consent of the governed, contract theory, etc.

      "C" I have read Jefferson's letter, but apparently you haven't, or at least you didn't quote his letter, but the church's letter to him. Here's the pertinent quote, which draws a direct line between the First Amendment and the phrase "wall of separation".

      "...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. "
      (http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html)

      November 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      Who said, "thou shall be no mention of God in any public doc ument"?

      The government is not allowed to endorse one religion over other religions or non-religion.

      November 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Chad

      ME II " The Gospels are not evidence"
      @Chad "yes they are :-)
      Like any historical docu ment, they can and are evaluated for authenticiity, unless of course you as an atheist want to exclude a priori any doc ument authored by a Christian? lol

      =======
      @ME II "Saul was not a witness"
      @Chad "of what? he certainly was a witness of the resurrected Jesus.

      ===
      @ME II "I didn't suggest that "Jesus was never buried in a tomb." I'm simply pointing out that, other than the NT, you have no evidence of a resurrected Jesus and stating "the empty tomb" isn't evidence either.
      @Chad "LOL
      you need to differentiate between the evidence (empty tomb, resurrection appearances, origin of the disciples belief) from the best explanation of the evidence (that Jesus was resurrected).
      The empty tomb is a fact, the resurrection is the explanation.

      =====
      @ME II "I didn't suggest a "hallucination theory." I'm simply pointing out that even eye witness testimony is unreliable, not to mention hearsay."
      @Chad so what theory are you proposing? the "stick ones fingers in one ears and hum softly theory?"

      ==========
      @ME II "I don't need to explain the origin of a belief.
      @Chad "a historian needs to explain it"

      =========
      @ME II "Whether James Madison, personally, believed or not, is immaterial, he, along with the other founders went out of their way to separate church and state."
      @Chad "A. good to see you abandoned the "our founding fathers didnt believe in a God who intervened" nonsense..
      B. what they went out of their way to do is make sure that religion could be practiced freely, and no state religion would be created. Nothing more (or less).

      you'll have to actually read the letter to Jefferson, to understand the context of his reply :-)

      November 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "yes [the Gospels] are [evidence] :)"

      Then we are at an impasse.

      Peace.

      November 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Chad

      ME II " The Gospels are not evidence"
      @Chad "yes they are
      Like any historical docu ment, they can and are evaluated for authenticiity, unless of course you as an atheist want to exclude a priori any doc ument authored by a Christian?
      :-)

      November 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, Chad, they're doc uments full of magic; thus, they're not "historical doc uments." When a doc ument has magic in it, it's not considered to be "evidence" of accurate history.

      November 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Chad

      by "magic" I assume you are referring to the supernatural.

      so, you are saying that the supernatural is impossible? That assertion can only be made if you claim that the God of Israel does not exist.

      Are you making the claim that the God of Israel does not exist?

      November 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      Can you bring anything besides irrelevant quote mining, and the same refuted assertions that you always bring?

      November 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • ME II

      @Chad,
      "Like any historical docu ment, they can and are evaluated for authenticiity, unless of course you as an atheist want to exclude a priori any doc ument authored by a Christian? :)"

      Sorry I didn't respond sooner.

      Imbecilic smile notwithstanding...

      1) This is a false dichotomy fallacy. Historical docu.ments can be excluded for many reasons, e.g. lack of corroboration, evidence of forgery/fakery, inherent bias, etc., without it being an atheist a priori exclusion.

      2) The rebuttal argument might be that you, as a Christian, accept it a priori, then find supporting evidence via confirmation bias.

      3) Even if a docu.ment is considered "authentic" it is not necessarily a true or accurate docu.ment. In other words, whether the book of Matthew was actually written by the Apostle Matthew, which may not be the case, that says nothing about whether or not the events described actually took place. In order for the words to be considered accurate, or 'likely to be accurate', one would need corroboration from additional sources for that event, not other events described, but that actual event. Basically, the NT being a propaganda docu.ment, e.g. the great commission, it is likely biased in favor of the Jesus and his supposed divinity. This bias must be taken into account when evaluating the truth of it's statements, hence the need for corroboration, hence its lack of standing as 'evidence' of events on its own. Similar, I suspect, to taking the descriptions of larger-than-life events ascribed to historical figures with a grain of salt, such as Daniel Boone's hand to hand combat with bears, Billy the Kid's exploits, King Arthur's pulling Excalibur from a stone, or the divinity of the Egyptian Pharaohs.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  2. Jack

    Whenever I'm forced to vote in a church, I always bring pro-choice materials, and leave them in the lobby, on tables, in bathrooms...wherever. I'd encourage everyone else to do the same. Nothing wrong with a little education.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Andy

      Like. lol.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Great idea!

      November 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • MCR

      Nice, I'd drop of some PFLAG brochures too if it's a conservative church.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • W247

      That says a LOT about your character. Congratulations.

      What is wrong with people these days?

      November 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  3. Colorado

    So we have problems voting in churches because they express opinions. Yet, we have no problems voting in schools, and let's just say that's not an unbiased venue...

    November 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Andy

      Your afraid of an influence from schools? And I suppose you're afraid of all medicine as well. Lol. Idiot.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Why, because they don't teach Creationism? There's a reason why dummy, it's not true or can be proven to be.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How would public schools be biased? You mean because so many people who work in them probably vote Democrat? Are you really that stupid?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Jeff E.

      Thank you, I tried to make the same point earlier but obviously some intolerant trolls (like the folks that have already replied to your post) are only capable of seeing one side of the coin.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      @ Jeff

      Any chance you could explain it better than colorado, then?

      November 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jeff E.

      Schools have been infamously pro-union and pro-Democrat. If the idea is to hold elections in completely neutral places where voters don't feel the location has some sort of political influence, schools aren't it either. My real argument is that no such location exists but then I wouldn't expect a lot of CNN readers to necessarily agree that what they consider neutral isn't neutral for Conservatives.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ME II

      "Even at the proposition level, 'Voting at a school could increase support for school spending or voting at a church could decrease support for stem cell initiatives,' says Wheeler." – from the Stanford study cited in the article.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  4. NorCalMojo

    I've never been bothered by it. I voted in a Korean church for years. I've always appreciated them for providing the service.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  5. mark

    This isn't even a debate. Religion should not touch this subject. EVER.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Walter

      Clearly it is a debate because it's still happening. Just because you don't think it should happen, doesn't make it the final word.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • MCR

      I don't think churches should be used as polling places, but I have to agree with Walter on this one. The world isn't simple, and any time you see a debate where the answer seems obvious, you first move should be to question what you're missing.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • W247

      Religion isn't touching the subject, they are not making you genuflect before you cast your vote! They are providing a service, not giving a sermon. You take from it what your own biased opinion gathers from it.

      November 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  6. Lt

    How incredibly weak minded and narrow-minded is Barry Lynn and his group.Who can seriously consider his proposition that voting in a church building is somehow problematic. Is he really so weak in his beliefs that he can be persuaded by something so inconsequential.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • MCR

      It's not whether you're vote would be influenced, but whether you'd feel welcome entering the religious organization. Remember that if we allow one religious organization, we have to allow all others (be they racist, anti-gay or hateful to other religions) otherwise we are picking and choosing one religion over another.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Lt, uh, that would be you who is weak and narrow-minded just by making the statement.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Al

      I wouldn't say that a church is the last place you would want to have voting, but it certainly wouldn't be at the top of the list.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • anon

      The church is the people. The BUILDING they congregate in is just that, only a building. Who cares. The main reason these BUILDINGS are used is because they are usually pretty spacious, and roomy. Other buildings like schools are okay, but they have the rather narrow hallways. Also, it's harder to go vote and navigate around the students at the same time. Church buildings on a tuesday morning are usually pretty empty.

      If they aren't having services, or preaching to you when you go vote, then get over it.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Eduardo

      Anon, having voted in both a public school for years and now this year in a church, I have to say that my experience has been exactly the opposite. The voting area at the church was a narrow side room, not spacious at all. Whereas in the public school they used the auditorium, which has plenty of space. And there were no students around since students in New York City have the day off. (There's no reason other localities couldn't follow that policy.) If schools don't have suitable auditoriums they probably have gymnasiums or cafeterias.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:10 am |
  7. LeRoy

    Maintain separation of church and state.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • W247

      It is maintained. It is a building to vote. They are not asking you to pray, genuflect, convert, take communion. They are offering a service to the community, not giving a sermon to the community.

      November 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  8. smartaz

    I'm not even sure 'religious people' are too fond of polling in places of worship. I'm not sure Muslims would necessary want to walk into a Jewish temple or Jews would want to go to a Mosque to vote. It just stirs up too many issues beyond influencing the vote. There are plenty of fire departments and etc to hold these elections.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  9. Frank

    About 10 years ago I voted in a church. In the room where the voting machines were, the walls were covered in pictures of Jesus (the laughable ones that show him as a white guy), and pictures of Republican presidents. They seemed to think this was OK. They also had campaign posters inside the church in the room where you give the people your information
    before you vote. (republican posters of course)

    My guess is that if the same people had to vote in a Mosque, they would be screaming and crying about it.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • MCR

      I love it...that's classic. Where do you all live that they actually use churches?!?! I've lived all over the USand only ever seen publicschoolsused.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Jeff E.

      Sounds a bit like the gigantic Obama mural greeting voters in a Philadelphia school today. There's no true neutral place which is why this argument is pointless.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Frank

      Austin, Texas

      I complained to the election board but I don't know if anything became of it. I moved across town the next year so I had a different polling place. (Masonic Lodge)

      November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • MCR

      Oh, well, texas...sorry about that. I'd, well...move is all I can think of.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Jeff E.

      I love how partisans conveniently choose to ignore facts that don't support their opinions.

      November 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Eduardo

      Jeff, some buildings are more neutral than others. A public government building, like a school, is a lot more neutral than a building that is designed to be a house of worship for a particular brand of religion. If a school happens to have a mural of a candidate that is running in the election, as in the case you point out, it seems simple enough to cover it up. I suppose you could make the same argument about just covering up the religious propaganda in a church building. But those kinds of conflicts of interest are much more likely to crop up in a church. I think we should maintain the separation of church and state.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  10. Brenda Rowe

    If churches use the pulpit to promote political agendas to their congregations, then I think they should lose the rights to be tax exempt.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    (True) Christianity has one great advantage: It is not bigoted.

    Look at Mormons, Baptists, Muslims, Catholics and the like. They only love you if you are a member of their cult or if they want to convert you. They will never love you just because you are a human being with human dignity.

    What manifests human dignity?

    Answer: Jesus Christ died for the whole mankind, for everybody independent from belief, nationality, color, status, etc..

    Of course, someone is only a Christian, if he believes that Christ died also for him, and improves his life through Jesus' power but nevertheless even if he doesn't believe God has expressed his love to him through the sacrifice of his son. I don't have to judge my neighbour for his disbelief but I only have to focus on the fact that God offers love to my neighbour, and I also should offer love.

    My task as a Christian isn't it to convert my neighbour but to love him because God yet loved him so much that God gave his Son for him. True Christian love is independent from the conversion of the neighbour.

    Furthermore at Judgement Day one will only come through when his life has improved. Hence, I cannot insist on my creed but I will be asked how I behaved, and how I treated my fellow human beings.

    Hence, we should favour Christianity because it is the most civilized faith which promotes peace and righteousness among all people.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    At Judgement Day God will not ask you how many times you went to Mekka or to Rome, or if you have read the Bible all the time, or if you have honored the elders of your church, etc. He only will ask you if you have loved Him and your neighbour.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Huebert

      The same argument can be made for secular humanism. Though, humanism has one distinct advantage, it does not as.sume that the world will end.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Romnesia

      You are deluded if you think christians are not bigoted. The fuss about the candidates' respective religions has shown how much bigotry the christians display.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • AvdBergism source of filthy RainerBraendleinism©

      Absurdity of the Rainer. Christian organizations most bigoted all of religion in U.S.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      So much evil occurs on earth that it is hardly possible to claim that man would be good.

      On the other hand so much good is done that it would hardly be possible to say that man is evil.

      The solution is that we all have an evil germ within us, and our behaviour depends on how we treat this germ, if we fight against it or if we promote it. Hence, there are good and evil people on earth although the nature of all human beings is the same.

      This logic is simply founded on reality. Yet, it even fits together with some stories of the Bible.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Huebert

      Rainer

      A better explanation is that people act in a way that will further their own goal, what ever that may be. Others judge your actions as good or bad, but no one is the villein in their own mind. There is no need to invoke some mythical "germ of evil".

      November 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • AverySays

      "...someone is only a Christian, if he believes that Christ died also for him..."

      Not so. Check out the Jefferson Bible.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Huebert

      Lets test that claim :D

      November 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • The "Does Prayer Change Things" Test is ON!!!

      And today we get to see? All those prayers for Mitty! All those prayers for control of the Senate!

      Either fails, and PRAYER DOESN't CHANGE THINGS!

      Stay tuned, buddy! It's faceplant day for you!!!

      November 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "christopher hitchens" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian

      November 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Steve

      No, Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      November 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • nope

      @ste...
      nope

      November 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • snopes confirms

      nope is false

      November 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  13. VanHagar

    "We shouldn’t dismiss these concerns as whining from an overly sensitive band of people who are religion-phobic." Um, yes we should.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  14. itsme

    Sorry, but you are being whiny and overly sensitive.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • christopher hitchens

      it is the nature of pansies and atheists to be whiny and overly sensitive.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "it is the nature of pansies and atheists to be whiny and overly sensitive."

      Do you really want to talk about being "over sensitive"? It's Christians that like to get buthurt over little things such as gay marriage and abortion.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "christopher hitchens" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" who posts lovely thing like "qu eers the ones who gave aids to america" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:

      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Mittology

      fake hitchens knows a lot about pansies; must speak from personal experience.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • christopher hitchens runs away crying...

      You're mean! I'm no pansy. WAhahhhahhaa.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • christopher hitchens

      I'm still around, just happen to have a life unlike all the losers on these blogs.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • snopes confirms

      "truth be told", posting here as "christopher hitchens" which has little to do with the real CH,
      is in fact a closeted, but homophobicpansy.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  15. Jeff E.

    I feel very uncomfortable voting in schools and fire stations since most of the people that work there are union and left-leaning and I feel that's a serious advantage for Democrats.... just kidding. Nobody cares if you are "uncomfortable" voting somewhere. Obviously somebody is going to be uncomfortable wherever you put the polling locations so walk in, vote your conscience, and don't worry about God striking you down if you vote the wrong way. Get over it whiney folks.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  16. christopher hitchens

    America founded by Christians for Christians, love it or leave it.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "christopher hitchens" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      try and make me leave christopher. my guess is you will just hide behind your computer screen.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • YoozYerBrain

      @ christopher hitchens ....nope

      "Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies." [Thomas Jefferson]

      "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma." [Lincoln]

      November 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  17. JLee

    Yes, let's have lots and lots of strangers going in and out of our school buildings during the school day. Let's create parking problems, let's interfere with public services...for crying out loud, it's just a building. If it bothers you, you can always vote absentee, but really, let's be grownups. Religious buildings are often the largest space in a town, and it makes sense to use them - mosque, synagogue, or christian.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      The point is that religion should not even touch this issue, ever.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • MCR

      In my state that's not an allowed reason for voting absentee.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  18. DemForNow

    I totally agree churches are no place to hold polling places. A free and honest election demands the elimination, where possible, of any overt or covert influences that could affect how people vote.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • smartaz

      That is a bit of a fairy tale dream. The place you vote is not going to have any impact after a years worth of 'opinion' pieces and borderline slander campaigns these guys run.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Yeah

      You didn't read the article, did you smartaz? It says that studies found the opposite.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • smartaz

      Oh yeah, 'studies'. How could I ever doubt these 'studies'.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @smartaz

      But do you doubt the Bible?

      November 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • smartaz

      I believe in having a strong mind and not letting external influences affecting my judgement.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @smartaz

      You didn't answer my question.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  19. Gug Flusterbus

    Once upon a time, churches may have been reasonable and fairly neutral places to vote, but in the last couple decades, where churches have gone in for political radicalism, churches are effectively intimidations to non-conservatives. Which of course they want.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Greg

      Agreed. It doesn't bother me too much, but I wouldn't take my kids into the place I vote for all the mind-numbing garbage they have displayed when that's going on.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  20. Too Much

    We've got far bigger issues to worry about in our country than this. If where you vote affects how you vote...you should probably stay home.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Jokers to the right

      Translation: you are a right-wing nut who is also in favor of these new Tea Party voting law intimidations.

      You know, searches of voter lists for these fantasy offenders have proved fruitless. The Tea Party invented a phantom, and today they use it to keep people from voting.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      The biggest issue we have is religion's attempt, mainly right wing Christianity, in bashing its way into everyone's personal life. This WILL stop.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:30 am |
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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.