Alexandria To the Editor:
In response to the recent letter to the editor: “Sermonizing At Poll Site,” I am compelled to take issue with Ms. Downs who complained about a normal function in Blessed Sacrament Catholic Community. As precinct captain at Temple Beth El and a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament, there is absolutely no basis for this outrageous complaint.
Religious facilities exist for worship by members of their congregations. Occasionally a part of the facility may be utilized as a polling place or for other public events. However, it is imperative that the space is respected so as not to interrupt religious functions or to impede access for members of the congregation in a facility dedicated for their worship.
On Election Day, Ms. Downs escaped the cold by standing in Blessed Sacrament’s “Gathering Space,” that is not designated as part of the polling place. This space is an integral part of Blessed Sacrament’s church. The area is equipped with a sound system and windows so that mothers, their small children, and handicapped or ill parishioners can be outside the sanctuary but in an area where they participate in the ceremony. What occurred on Nov. 6 was the normal, daily, weekday schedule of two masses celebrated at 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. The priest’s sermon was consistent with the gospel of the day, the teaching of the Catholic Church and the clergy’s obligation to educate and inspire the faithful about Catholic teaching.
For many years, while serving as a precinct captain at Temple Beth El, it has been my responsibility to remind greeters, poll workers and voters that members of the congregation must not be impeded from access to exercise their 1st Amendment right to practice freely their religion.
Churches will continue to teach their congregations about the value of the family, religious liberty, the dignity of life and moral and ethical behavior equally respecting the constitutional right for citizens to vote.
K. Eileen Giglio, Precinct Captain at Temple Beth El