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.”
He said there have been a variety of requests in the past for particular locations to not be used as polling places, “generally based on some kind of problem that cropped up during an election.”
But he said he was unaware of other requests based on a slogan posted at a private property during the hundreds of days during the year it is not used for polling.
The executive director of the Democrats, Keith Annis, told WND he viewed the problem as similar to facilities that don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, have terrible parking or where “people were rude.”
“We got two complaints about it,” Annis told WND. “When I saw the photograph taken of the marquee, I agreed with the concern and pursued it.”
He suggested such locations must be politically neutral all year round if they want to serve the electorate during elections as polling locations.
“The question quite clearly and obviously refers to the birthers controversy, drummed up by opponents of President Obama,” he said. “Quite clearly it indicates a bias or political opinion.
“A polling location should not have any opinion or bias,” he said. “A church known as a polling location expressing a strong political opinion … that might make some voters uncomfortable going there,” he said.
As for the question itself? He said President Obama’s birth certificate is in Hawaii, and he hasn’t seen it because he hasn’t been to Hawaii.
Raborn said it would be the county commission that would make decisions on changes of polling locations.
Pastor Hopkins describes himself as passionate about his faith, his church and his country.
The sign appeared more than a month ago, and Hopkins reported he received only one call concerning the sign in the first month – from a ministry leader at another church who labeled him a racist for posing the question. Then this week, he told WND, he got a couple more calls and the e-mail from the county, demanding to know if the photograph was real.
“I’m presuming they’re wanting me to say that is an actual picture,” Hopkins said, “I’m assuming they’ll no longer want to use us as a polling place.”
The e-mail from Raborn asked: “Attached is a photo I received today from the Tarrant County Democratic Party along with a request that we no longer use Maplewood Baptist Fellowship as a polling place.
“Can you confirm that the photo is accurate?”
Hopkins, whose church website highlights news about Israel and an Islamic supremacist organization, said his own church members had raised no objections. He said one man wondered how long it has been posted and a second who suggested it perhaps wasn’t the best message available.
WND has reported on the multitude of lawsuits and other challenges to Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president based on the U.S. Constitution’s demand that the president be a “natural born citizen.”
And Obama’s birth certificate is not the only document at issue. WND has reported that among the documentation not yet available for Obama includes kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, his passport, medical records, files from his years as an Illinois state senator, Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records, and his adoption records.
Hopkins told WND he put up the sign in front of his small church because he is supposed to have freedom of speech in the United States and he feels it is a question that needs an answer.
He’s found out that the callers he’s had have been unable to answer the actual question either, “but they don’t care.”
“If you raise any questions, then they demonize you and all that. Disagreeing with [them] on policy doesn’t make me a racist,” he said.
The newest “Where’s The Birth Certificate” billboard – in Las Vegas
Fans of the campaign kicked off originally by Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, placed their own sign in Quilcene, Wash., on Center Road, a state highway that connects 101 and 104, leading to the Hood Canal Bridge.
“Lots of tourists pass by this sign all summer long,” said the folks responsible. “We are proud of our contribution, however humble.”
Another effort, by an unknown supporter, appears on Kenwood Drive in Spring Valley, Calif., in San Diego County.
The fence on which this sign hangs faces a large Presbyterian church, so all members see the banner upon exiting on Sunday morning, notes the photographer.
Others were found in Chehalis, Wash., and Linden, Texas.
How does all this sit with the originator of the campaign? Farah says he’s pleased and considers imitation, in this case, a positive development.
“We may never be able to place billboards in every state in the country and certainly not every community,” he said. “I encourage those with the means to take matters into their own hands to do so.”
For those less ambitious, Farah also devised a way for everyone to get into the act – with your own car or your own yard.
WND previously launched a petition campaign that has collected nearly half a million names demanding Obama’s eligibility be verified and demonstrated publicly. That campaign continues. That list has been shared with members of the Electoral College and the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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