January 25, 2008

Conflict Over Church Voting Venues


by Rohan Parker

Concerns that voting in predominately Protestant Churches may impinge on freedom of religious rights have snowballed recently in the United States, with a growing number of concerned religious representatives weighing-in on the debate.

Religious groups protesting that the use of Church grounds violates the intended neutrality of voting facilities, plan to file a petition with the Constitutional Court next month. “There have been constant complaints from citizens who were upset about having to go to churches to cast their vote. However, the government does not seem to even listen,” said Bae Byung-tae, a researcher for the Korea Institute of Religious Freedom.

As this issue heats up, there have been reports of people choosing not to vote at all; refusing to do so when it would mean entering a Church that they do not support. Continued allegations of Church members preaching to voting-casting citizens has only added fuel to the fire.

There are also concerns that utilizing Church grounds as a voting facility infers religious favoritism, with one Buddhist researcher adding: “It may give the impression that the country is in favor of one particular religion.”

No governmental response to this issue has yet been achieved.

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