Each election day, millions of Americans head to their designated polling place to cast ballots. The vast majority think little, if at all, about what other purpose the particular building might serve on any other day.
Atheist activists, however, have voiced concern over the fact that they are occasionally asked to vote inside of a church.
My own polling location was a nearby Baptist church; and like everyone before and after me, I entered, voted, and left. There was no proselytization and no campaigning for a particular candidate or issue, just poll workers and voters.
Still, groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State say that no one should be required to vote inside of a place of worship.
“All of this church-based political activity makes me uneasy about casting ballots in houses of worship,” said the group’s executive director.
He said AUSCS gets multiple complaints from fellow church-state separatists who are distraught at the prospect of walking through a church’s door. I understand that these people might disagree with what goes on during a religious service, but I cannot remember the last election that took place at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
I usually refrain from the popular leftist tactic of arguing ad absurdum, but there are plenty of secular places people might not ordinarily enter were it not also a polling place.
A library, for instance, might offend someone who struggles with reading. Young people who still don’t trust anyone over 30 might shy away from entering a senior center.
The bottom line is that voters go to polling places to vote, and any other influence the particular building might have should be wholly disregarded.
A peripheral concern that atheist groups seem to have is that churches will try to sway voters one way or the other. This is a valid concern, and election judges must keep an eye out for such undue influence.
To somehow believe this is a problem only in houses of worship, though, is either disingenuous or incredibly naive.
When a school in Pennsylvania kept a fawning mural of Barack Obama exposed during the recent election, I did not hear a wave of calls for schools to be removed from the list of appropriate polling places.
B. Christopher Agee founded The Informed Conservative in 2011. Like his Facebook page for engaging, relevant conservative content daily.
Photo credit: reuvenim (Creative Commons)