Are Churches Appropriate Voting Stations?

Hank Fox meditates on the sanctity of the uncoerced conscience at voting time. He reminds us of our willingness to ban campaigning at voting stations—which goes to the extent of banning us from wearing all campaign paraphernalia, even our “quiet campaign buttons”. And then shows us how his own local polling station greets voters :

Hank writes:

I couldn’t guess how it might play out in any individual voter, but I can safely predict that with certain ballot measures, here and elsewhere, what we feel when we enter a church WILL have a powerful effect on how large numbers of us mark our ballots.

Should women have the private right to determine their own adult reproductive choices, or should those baby-killing sluts be prevented by law from alternately getting knocked up and then disposing of millions of precious unblemished souls in bloody abortion clinic trash cans? Should Adam and Steve be allowed to marry whomever they please, or should those disgusting beasts be prevented from prancing around in public making a mockery of God-given American family values? Should our innocent schoolchildren be taught the beautiful truth of the talking snake in the Garden of Eden, or the ungodly fiction that we all descended from fornicating monkeys?

One thing’s for sure: If you believe, in any measure at all, that the Almighty Creator of the Universe is looking over your shoulder as you make such decisions, it HAS TO affect your vote.

Read his whole insightful argument.

Personally, I am reminded of a poignant story I read on Andrew Sullivan’s blog about the 2008 Prop 8 vote where a lesbian couple described being on line chatting about non-political topics with a fellow voter and noticing (I forget how) that after their conversation, with no prompting from them, he changed a pre-filled out form he had had with him which had originally been a vote against gay marriage to one for it.

Where you are and who you are around and what you are exposed to affects your thinking.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Cuttlefish
  • Kevin

    I’ve lived in several states.
    In Virginia, the polling stations were in public schools.
    I moved to Mississippi, and the polls were in churches. Small, tight parking lots, rooms darker than school auditoria. Creeped me out.
    Ditto in North Carolina: polls in churches. Ditto creepy.
    Here in Texas, polls are – correctly – in schools.

    If you’re living in a state which conducts polling in churches, raise the issue, but do it gently. Those folks are crazy stubborn toward change.

  • Mary Blackley

    I vote at a golf course. My daughter showed up to vote wearing a Spitzer for Governor sweatshirt to vote ( in Ohio)and was told she could not wear it in when she cast her vote. I don’t think any voting should be at any church…if one cannot wear anything political the same should certainly be applied to ‘subliminal’ or in your face religious messages.

  • abb3w

    Of course, I suppose one could make an argument on similar grounds against schools being an appropriate voting location for education-related elections.

  • Aquaria

    Here in Texas, polls are – correctly – in schools.

    I live in San Antonio, and my local early voting place is a church. It’s directly across the street from a high school, one block from an elementary, and less than half a mile from a middle school.

    You were saying?


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