The Atheist Academic: Voting Pisses Me Off
This is my annual voting rant. I’ve heard all of the counterarguments, and I totally understand them. But something, deep down inside me, gets really pissed off when I vote.
My local precinct is held in a church. It’s close to my house, so I can walk there, which is super convenient. I’m fairly certain that they don’t charge the government for the use of the church, so it’s cost-efficient. And there’s a huge open area that is easily set-up for voting, so it works nicely. This year, they’ve taken down most of the religious symbols (or my brain blocked them out), so it’s appropriate… kind of.
But COME ON. There is nowhere else that we could be directed to vote? Combining church and state — even if it’s for one day a year, even if it’s just so that the government can save some money — is WRONG. It sets a precedent that says “Oh, go ahead, church and state can cohabitate, there’s nothing odd about that…” It discriminates against people who don’t go to that church. It’s not a comforting place for me.
It’s little things like this that carefully, slowly, teach people that religion is normal. Religion should not be the norm. It sets a precedent in peoples’ minds that churches are a happy part of every thriving community. Sure, there’s no proselytization — I get that. That shouldn’t make a difference. There’s still the idea that if you want to vote, you have to know where the church is and you have to walk inside and smell that church smell and get sucked in.
Mosques and Hindu and Sikh temples are never used as polling places. In fact, I have never been in any building that worships any other faith. The Mosque temples that I’ve seen are set off, perhaps gated, hidden from the outside world. Why aren’t Christian churches the same? Why are Christian churches part of our lives? If you’re not religious, you shouldn’t have to experience religion. Perhaps people who are currently religious don’t understand, but there’s a weird feeling the former religious get when they walk into a church. It could be like making a victim of domestic violence go back to the home where the abuse happened. It isn’t right.
Some people like to say that I don’t have to vote, and this is true. Still, that’s my right to vote, and I refuse to give up my right. Other people will point out that I could vote early at a government building, and this is true as well. Still, it’s inconvenient for me to travel to the common polling place on a weekday. In addition, I’d like to get all the information about the candidates as I possibly can. This means that it’s my right to vote on voting day with everyone else.
I don’t think that my yearly whining about polling places will change anything with the structure of voting. But perhaps if people read this each year, they’ll start to see how the government really pushes the Christian religion on us, perhaps without even realizing it. A message doesn’t need to be overt for it to be powerful — it just needs to be heard.