Officials in Tarrant County, Texas, who launched an inquisition into the free speech of a church pastor over a marquee message in 2009 have decided to stop using the facility as a polling place, even though voters have been coming to that location for some 30 years.
Pastor Gary Hopkins of Maplewood Baptist Church told WND today that his facility had started getting calls from voters about the Nov. 2 election, and he realized county officials hadn’t contacted him as they had for years to arrange a setup time for voting machines and the like.
He called the county and was told his church no longer is a polling place. The location had been moved around the corner to the Davis Memorial United Methodist Church, he said.
“They switched from our church, which had been a polling place for 30 years, to the Methodist church virtually next door,” he told WND. “I am sure there is no coincidence.”
The “no coincidence” he cited was linked to the dustup last year over a message he posted on his church marquee.
County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn at the time told WND that he was not aware the sign was “a violation of any election law or anything like that.”
The executive director of the Democrats at the time, Keith Annis, told WND he got two complaints about the sign and agreed with the concerns over the issue.
He suggested such locations must be politically neutral all year 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 at the time. “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.”
Annis told WND at the time that President Obama’s birth certificate is in Hawaii.
He also said the county commission would make decisions on changes of polling locations. A spokesman for the commission today told WND he knew nothing of the change of location, and Raborn did not respond to a message left by WND.
Hopkins told WND he was operating under the impression that the Democrats didn’t like the message, so he has kept his marquee clear of any controversial topics for the past year.
“I was told that we would keep our polling place as long as we did not put up anything political during the voting season. I have honored that on my end,” he said.
“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, has said his own church members raised no significant objections to the sign. He said one man wondered how long it has been posted and a second suggested it perhaps wasn’t the best message available.
Pastor Hopkins describes himself as passionate about his faith, his church and his country.
He told WND while the sign was up he got one call over its subject matter – from a ministry leader at another church who labeled him a racist for posing the question.
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.
WND previously reported on a variety of “Where’s the Birth Certificate” signs that have sprouted around the country.
The signs are in addition to a campaign launched by WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah on the issue. One of those campaign billboards appeared in front of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Hotel.
The newest “Where’s The Birth Certificate” billboard – in Las Vegas
But fans of the campaign also have been contributing to the effort, including concerned Americans who 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, appeared 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.
Other independent signs have been found in Chehalis, Wash.,; Linden, Texas; and Denver.
For those who want to raise the question, but lack resources to post a billboard, there are other options: There are magnetized bumper stickers with the now-famous message and design – “Where’s the birth certificate?”