Early Voting, Or Why I’m Still Really Baptist

It’s voting season around here, and it’s a well-known primary election for North Carolina–mostly for the Marriage Amendment. I am thankful, for many reasons, that early voting is an option. For one, the line is shorter. For another, it’s more convenient. And so, on Monday afternoon, I walked over to my community center to cast my primary ballot.

If I were to wait until election day next Tuesday, I’d be doing so at a local church.

The former seemed so much more appropriate. Mostly because I believe in the separation of church and state. Staunchly, I’ve come to realize. And voting in a political election at a church flies in the face of separating the two. Voting at a town community center just…fits.

Walking home from my community center got me thinking about this whole separation of church and state thing and my earliest attempts to understand it. I asked my youth minister when I was in high school, but never got a clear explanation of what it was or what it meant. It was clarified in my Baptist History class at Campbell, but the farther reaching implications have only become clearer for me in recent years–particularly as I’ve considered more deeply what it means to vote in a church versus a community center…or have a minister sign the state’s marriage license.

While all of the arguments fly around this amendment, and while pastors speak for or against it from their pulpits–in ways that harm and abuse one’s power in one case in particular–I am reminded that the reason I believe in the separation of church and state is because I have Baptist roots. Deep Baptist roots, apparently. Because real Baptists believe in it. In fact, Baptists are the reason we have freedom of religion in the First Amendment. Baptists also are believers of autonomy and freedom of the local church and individual beliefs. And even though I’m part of a non-denominational church, I’m still really down with all of that.

Ironically enough, it makes me a conservative Baptist.

But since those ideas have been…well…perverted…in many instances, it may make me a liberal Baptist.

Either way, I’m still Baptist.

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