Some people’s faith plays front and center in their voting habits.
One church in Oklahoma, which also acted as a polling place in Tuesday’s primary runoff elections, is dealing with some faith-based fallout, though.
Brookside Baptist Church in Tulsa posted the bible verse from the book of Ecclesiastes 10:2 on its changeable letter sign as voters lined up to cast their primary runoff ballots, including for governor, lieutenant governor and in four U.S. House races.
It was up for more than two hours on election day, according to KJRH, with the message, “The heart of the wise inclines to the right. But the heart of the fool to the left.”
The church’s pastor blamed the secretary for the “controversial” verse, the station reported.
“When we realized exactly the bible verse our secretary stuck up, we yanked it down immediately,” Pastor Brandon McCombs told KJRH. “Our goal is not to be controversial, not to blow up social media.”
But social media still blew up about it. Negative reviews accusing the church of electioneering still litter the church’s Facebook page.
One user called pitting “the right” against “the left” on a prominent sign of a polling place “highly unethical and morally wrong,” and added, “It gives me chills to think someone would seek spiritual guidance from a place like this.”
Another said the sign was evidence that the church doesn’t “care about the poor or the meek. They care about the rich and the corrupt.”
All the votes cast in Tuesday’s elections were for Republicans running against other Republicans, or for Democrats running against Democrats. So, a sign declaring the notion that “the right” is a better choice than “the left” isn’t against state election rules in Oklahoma, Tommy Neal, who oversees polling places for the Tulsa Election Board, told the Tulsa World.
“It was a little bit of a headache for us,” Neal told the newspaper. “Technically, there was nothing wrong with it, but it ... was not a message we wanted to convey.”
Later in the day, the sign was changed to simply read, “Vote!” according to KTUL.
According to Oklahoma law, campaign signs or any other signs that could influence voters are not allowed within 300 feet of a polling place.