Voter precinct located in the local Baptist Church

 
reason&logic101
 
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reason&logic101
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06 August 2014 21:59
 

A few years ago, our voting precinct was quietly moved up the street from the community center to a large Baptist Church. We went to the community center like normal only to find a sign directing us to the church. We reluctantly went over and voted. The following year we voted there but not without discomfort. It was a primary election; there was a physical grimace on the face of the election representative when she handed us our Democratic ballot. I sent a note to American’s United and asked if this was constitutional; while their stance was against the concept they stated that we had the option to absentee vote.  The following year we went to our county clerk to vote. He quickly stated we were absentee voting, check marked that box on the envelope and then printed a form for us to sign verifying that we were going to be out of town on election day. As I was about to place my ballot envelope in the official box, I noticed that there were actually four options on it for why an individual might need or wanted to vote at the office; one of those options was religious belief.

This year we went back ready to exercise our option; again one option was recited. I asked if there were others; the lady read the other two about being ailing or having a physical issue with voting at the poll; the religious belief option was not offered. Once questioned about all the options, she became nervous and then offered that option apologetically stating that it was ‘never a problem’ before. We identified ourselves as Atheists and asked that she check mark the religious belief box. We reiterated that we don’t buy or drink beer at the Baptist church and we certainly do not want to vote there.  Both ladies in the office were flabbergasted that we chose this option; one asked the other how to do the paperwork. I wonder if this is happening elsewhere. The most disturbing part is they have been purposely avoiding offering the religious belief as an option for absentee voting.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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07 August 2014 03:47
 

What is the definition/purpose of the religious belief option? People of one religion not wanting to vote at another religions place of worship? I’m guessing it’s not on there for atheist.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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07 August 2014 05:23
 

I think this may be too strident a stance and send the wrong message. Churches are marvelous places to vote. Wide doors, wide aisles, plenty of room and parking. I think it is a good thing for churches to experience various examples of how these large neighbor community centers can still play a useful role in a future society.

Refusing to vote in a church could be taken as fearing God’s cooties or an unsteadiness of disbelief. Many theists assume atheists are devil worshippers. After all, what else is there to be? (from their perspective) When asked if I worship the Devil, I respond, “As I said, I am not a Christian.” EYEBROWS go flying everywhere until it pointed out that believing in Satan is still believing in Christianity. That there is a third position to take often comes as a surprise.

Let’s not unnecessarily play to the perceptions that atheists are dark, spooky people who have turned from God and Goodness. Go vote in the church with pride and exuding a calm demeanor that is unaffected by any supernatural cooties. Bring a different view into the building and walk out without being struck by lightning. When approached with tracts or preaching I smile and say, “No thank you, I’ve moved on from all of this.” Never use the language of back-peddling or leaving religion. They are never ready for forward metaphors.


As Mr. GAD suggests, its original purpose is likely for Protestants to stay away from Papists.

[ Edited: 07 August 2014 13:01 by Nhoj Morley]
 
 
EN
 
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EN
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07 August 2014 09:53
 

The big Baptist church in my city has at times been used for a polling place.  Like nhoj says, there’s plenty of space. If it was a Catholic or Unitarian church, or a mosque, or a secular university biology lab, I’d still go vote. It’s a place.

 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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07 August 2014 12:42
 

As long as they’re not abusing the situation I don’t think there’s a viable complaint to make.

 
 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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07 August 2014 13:46
 
EN - 07 August 2014 07:53 AM

The big Baptist church in my city has at times been used for a polling place.  Like nhoj says, there’s plenty of space. If it was a Catholic or Unitarian church, or a mosque, or a secular university biology lab, I’d still go vote. It’s a place.

Agree.  Pick your fight.  This is not one of them.

 
 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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07 August 2014 16:27
 
Nhoj Morley - 07 August 2014 03:23 AM

I think this may be too strident a stance and send the wrong message. Churches are marvelous places to vote. Wide doors, wide aisles, plenty of room and parking. I think it is a good thing for churches to experience various examples of how these large neighbor community centers can still play a useful role in a future society.

Refusing to vote in a church could be taken as fearing God’s cooties or an unsteadiness of disbelief. Many theists assume atheists are devil worshippers. After all, what else is there to be? (from their perspective) When asked if I worship the Devil, I respond, “As I said, I am not a Christian.” EYEBROWS go flying everywhere until it pointed out that believing in Satan is still believing in Christianity. That there is a third position to take often comes as a surprise.

Let’s not unnecessarily play to the perceptions that atheists are dark, spooky people who have turned from God and Goodness. Go vote in the church with pride and exuding a calm demeanor that is unaffected by any supernatural cooties. Bring a different view into the building and walk out without being struck by lightning. When approached with tracts or preaching I smile and say, “No thank you, I’ve moved on from all of this.” Never use the language of back-peddling or leaving religion. They are never ready for forward metaphors.


As Mr. GAD suggests, its original purpose is likely for Protestants to stay away from Papists.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-03-07/extended-use-europes-old-churches-finding-new-life-starbucks-circus-school

Apparently the high ceilings made the church ideal for a circus school - trapeze acts . . . and a high-dive into a baptismal tub?

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reason&logic101
 
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reason&logic101
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07 August 2014 20:24
 

Good points from all. I certainly do not want to play into any false perceptions. This area is a very small, very religious community; one that is generally not open to anything outside the realm of Southern Baptist. In a town of 329 people, there are literally 7 Baptist churches. There are several science based agnostics that live in the area, too and do not attend any one of the seven churches.  Entering the church itself was not that uncomfortable; many of the election assistants are church members who first, know that you don’t attend church and second, do not like the fact that you are not choosing a Republican ticket. Those two concepts are extremely intertwined in this area. We’ve actually had them try to hand us the Republican ticket; when we declined and asked for the Dem ticket>out came the grimacing face. The change in polling places started with one church in our county a few years ago and now there are three being used.  It just has the feel of a subtle crossing of the separation line; quietly and a little at a time.

As for the religious belief box on the envelope; it did not have a lack thereof statement and nothing denoted Atheist> it’s probably going to be a while before we see that as an option. However, I have seen the option on other paperwork I’ve filled out in the last few years which surprised me; I was certainly not expecting to have the option at all. I proudly utilized the option. While I would agree that we need to pick our fights, if no one speaks up and at least has the intestinal fortitude to open the door by questioning, it is concerning where this might ‘quietly’ lead.

 
reason&logic101
 
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reason&logic101
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07 August 2014 20:36
 

As Mr. GAD suggests, its original purpose is likely for Protestants to stay away from Papists.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-03-07/extended-use-europes-old-churches-finding-new-life-starbucks-circus-school

Apparently the high ceilings made the church ideal for a circus school - trapeze acts . . . and a high-dive into a baptismal tub?

My husband and I often talk about all the future uses of churches. I have encountered a few Europeans at my job (that is located in this community). They found the number of churches located in a town of this size quite amusing and chatted about the uses of churches in their communities now. The comments have been the same; our country is 30-40 years behind theirs as it pertains to churches and church membership. One visitor said that many of their churches have been sold and converted to residential homes. The fact that the role of the Baptist church as a polling place in the future community makes sense and may very well end up competing for other viable uses.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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07 August 2014 23:08
 

My state offers started offering mail-in ballots a few years ago.  Many people opted for them, due to the convenience.  No reason was needed.  Now, many local elections are solely by mail.  The government sends every registered voter a ballot.  We can mail it back or bring it in to a few locations by the election date.  Super easy.  National elections offer mail-in, but also polling places, which are usually schools.