Tuesday, August 25, 2009


World Net Daily tells us about this great moment in American democracy:

Democrats in Tarrant County, Texas, have launched a campaign to have a local church eliminated as a polling place because the pastor has posted a statement of his own choosing -- "Where's the Birth Certificate?" -- on the facility's marquee.

County officials have asked Pastor Gary Hopkins of Maplewood Baptist Church, which for a number of years has served the community as a polling place, to authenticate a photograph supplied to the local Democrats by an informer.

County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn told WND, "I'm not aware that this is a violation of any election law or anything like that." ...

From a quick scan of the Texas Election Code, I actually don't think it is a violation of the law to have a blatantly partisan sign up at a polling place at a time when an election isn't currently taking place; the closest item I can find is a provision that an polling place can't be located "at the residence of a person who is: (1) a candidate for an elective office, including an office of a political party; or (2) related within the third degree by consanguinity or the second degree by affinity, as determined under Chapter 573, Government Code, to a candidate described by Subdivision (1)."

But, um, it doesn't seem right, does it?

But in much of Limbaughstan this kind of thing isn't even regarded as partisan, is it? Heck, it's just plain ol' common sense. It's the rest of us -- the ones who think the president has demonstrated his natural-born citizenship more than satisfactorily -- who are the evil partisans. Right?

(And we'll ignore the larger question of why a country that allegedly has no state religion puts polling places in churches at all.)


UPDATE: More church-and-state fun:

The Family Research Council, a Christian organization, has issued an electronic "Town Hall Kit" (PDF) to help its followers, including pastors, set up their own meetings "to inform and activate the people in your pews and communities" against the health care overhaul proposals moving through Congress.

There is also a handy "sermon starter," which begins: "This morning I am going to take on a hot topic: The government takeover of health care." ...

As it turns out, a sermon like that probably wouldn't be a violation of a church's tax-exempt status, and the church sign above probably isn't, either:

Federal law prohibits charities, including churches, from engaging in political activity like endorsing candidates, but it does allow them to advocate on behalf of public issues.

And that's OK. I wouldn't have wanted the leaders of the civil rights movement to be banned from preaching for equality. (And President Obama has reportedly asked friendly clergy members to talk about health care in their sermons).

But in the case of the sign, do we want our polling places to be partisan on off-days? And as for the morality of the FRC's sermons, um, I seem to recall from my days as a Catholic that lying is a sin, or at least it used to be:

Many of the group's objections to the health insurance "scheme" being advanced by President Obama have to do with its objections to abortion.

"Americans would be compelled to pay for abortion on demand by financing insurance companies that pay for abortion services," it says. It also says Americans would be compelled to finance Planned Parenthood, "the leading provider of abortion in the nation" ...

Politifact.com, a Web site that tries to fact-check such assertions, says that while "it appears likely" that most of the bills moving through Congress "would allow for the coverage of abortions, we don't see anything in the plans that would require taxpayers to foot the bill for that." It adds that the major House bill "went to great pains to include an amendment to ensure that federal money is not used for abortion coverage."

And any compulsory funding of Planned Parenthood would be news to Planned Parenthood. It does accept Title 10 funding, but that money is not allowed to pay for abortions...

"Death panels" also show up in the sample sermon (PDF), naturally:

This so-called "end-of-life" counseling, which some are referring to as "death panels," will be paid for by our tax dollars. This is morally unacceptable and must be resisted by all Christians.

Lying a sin? Silly me. Not in the Right-Wing Bible, which apparently isn't the same as the one I know. I guess I need to pick up a copy.

(Obama/clergy story via Americans United for Separation of Church and State.)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Regarding that stupid sign, I was a member of Maplewood Baptist Fellowship from 2008 - 2009 and there were some great folks at that church. Unfortunately, pastor Gray Hopkins was not one of them. In fact, the "pastor" was continually using his pulpit to further his political beliefs and bully the congregation into his way of thinking. I've NEVER seen or heard of a pastor so blatantly disrespecting the guidelines over separation between church and state. I understand Mr. Hopkins has taken a job out of state. Good! This is good for Tarrant County.

I joined Maplewood in order to rebuild my life after a nasty divorce. I went there expecting to find spiritual regrowth. Instead what I found was an egotistical, self-centered, arrogant character leading his church almost as a cult along the lines of Jim Jones.