Of all the odd jobs I've held over the years -- ask me about selling steak on a stake -- election judge was one of the less memorable. I used to set up and monitor election sites at the local Methodist church. The job was better when voter turnout was high but the days dragged on and on when the only thing on the ballot was an obscure bond issue or something. I had almost forgotten that I ever did this work when Daniel sent out the following story by Jim Haug of the Daytona Beach News-Journal:
ORMOND BEACH -- Prince of Peace Catholic Church makes its opposition to abortion clear with rows of white crosses commemorating aborted fetuses and two banners stating, "Pray for the innocent . . . 4,000 babies aborted daily in the USA."
Amy Murphy-DeMeo, 52, of Ormond Beach believes in freedom of speech and religion but thinks the church's political activism made it an inappropriate place to vote in Tuesday's election.
"It's just the principle of the thing," she said. "I have a God-given, taxpayer right to vote without (the polling place) trying to influence me."
I'm not sure which part of that quote is the funniest but the article explains that Murphy-DeMeo's view is that voting in churches violates the separation of church and state. Courts have tended to disagree with that view, but the issue is legitimate and worthy of coverage.
Haug interviews election officials and finds that schools are not used as polling locales in Volusia County, Florida, because every poll worker would have to undergo a background check. Also, Murphy-DeMeo was the only person to complain about the church site and the abortion protest banner was more than 100 feet from the entrance to the polling place.
But what I thought was so interesting about this article was that it assumed that a sign on church property protesting abortion was solely a political statement. Obviously the fact that it's legal to have an abortion in the United States through all nine months of pregnancy is a political matter. But the church's position on abortion is theological. And a banner asking people to pray to end abortion strikes me primarily as a spiritual request. Contrast it, for instance, with a banner asking people to vote against candidates who support abortion. Christians who oppose abortion may have various ideas about how -- or even whether -- to engage the issue politically, but they all pray for it to end. I'm not saying there aren't political overtones but it would have been nice to have included the view that church opposition to abortion might not be political so much as theological.
Photo via Vince Brown at Flickr.