If you’ve ever voted, there’s a chance you may have done so at a local church. That’s not automatically a problem, but it easily could be if there are not-so-subtle messages there encouraging you to vote a certain way, like signs opposing abortion rights or gay marriage.
That’s why I appreciate what Janesville (Wisconsin) City Council member Sam Liebert (below) said at a recent meeting. He urged his colleagues to find a polling location that honored the notion of church/state separation.
That angered one local pastor, Rev. Michael Jackson (go ahead and get it out of your system now), who sent Liebert a nasty letter accusing him of persecuting Christians, adding that he’s “the one member of the council who should have been most sensitive to the issue of discrimination.” Because, you know, black people.
Liebert wasn’t having any of it:
Liebert also addressed Jackson’s comment about sensitivity to discrimination: “I’m personally very offended that you would compare the last 500 years of institutional racism, dating back to slavery, as an analogy of what you perceive to be happening to your church. As a white man in America with financial security, you could never fully understand or comprehend what it is like to be a black person or black man in America … I believe your comments were in very poor taste.”
Liebert addressed the core issue, too:
He said a school or government building would be “a much more neutral building” than a church.
“Are they going to take down their giant 60-foot cross every time they go to the polls? That’s a religious artifact,” Liebert said, referring to the tall, white cross outside New Life’s building. “I think when we’re forcing voters to go to a church, it’s not fair to those who may not have the same belief.”
Again, a church isn’t automatically a problem. In some cases, they can direct people to a gym inside the building and you’d never know what they preach at all. But when social issues bring out a lot of voters, there reason to be concerned when they have to cast a ballot in a Christian church that holds a decidedly conservative stance and has every reason to guilt people into voting that same way by reminding them about the eternal damnation awaiting them for choosing “wrongly.”
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Andy for the link)