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Thursday, November 03, 2005

When Ministers Go Bad

The situation below looks pretty cut and dried to me. Anyone still
want to argue that these people are not out to make America a
theocracy?

<bold><color><param>6666,3333,CCCC</param><bigger>

</bigger></color><color><param>0000,0000,0000</param><bigger>CLERGY
CAN’T BAN ELECTIONEERING AT CHURCH POLLING PLACE, AMERICANS UNITED
TELLS TEXAS ELECTIONS OFFICIAL

Baptist Minister Barred Opponent Of Marriage Amendment From
Distributing Literature At Church Polling Place</bigger></color><bigger>

</bigger></bold><fontfamily><param>Verdana</param><smaller>Texas
election officials may not locate a polling place on church property
and then allow clergy to control the political activities that take
place there, according to Americans United for Separation of Church
and State.

A Dallas County man says a minister with the Northway Baptist Church
prohibited the placement of signs on church property opposing
Proposition 2, a referendum proposal that bars same-sex marriage in
Texas. The minister also reportedly ordered the man to remove his car
from the church parking lot because the vehicle displayed a sign
opposing the referendum.

The fellowship hall of the Northway Baptist Church is a polling place
for the Nov. 8 election, and early voting is under way now.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director,
“Americans have the clear constitutional right to take a stand on
political issues and to try to persuade voters to join them. It is
wrong for clergy to interfere in that process.

“If churches don’t want free speech to take place on their property,
they should not rent their facilities to the government for use as
polling places,” Lynn said. “This incident demonstrates why polling
places ought to be located at religiously neutral sites.”

In a Nov. 2 letter to Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce
Sherbert, Americans United warned that the Texas Election Code permits
electioneering at polling places as long as it takes places outside a
100-foot radius.

Observed the AU letter, “Northway Baptist Church has prohibited the
placement of signs on all of its property, not just the area inside
the one-hundred-foot boundary. By designating Northway Baptist as a
polling place, Dallas County elections officials have violated the
Texas Election Code and may have violated the First Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution.

“We therefore ask that you take immediate steps to ensure that the
church allows electioneering, including the placement of campaign
signs, on its premises, outside the one-hundred-foot boundary,” the
letter concluded.

Americans United said election officials have a legal obligation to
move the polling place to another location if the church refuses to
allow electioneering activities there.

</smaller></fontfamily>

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