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Are you allowed to vote inside a church? (Answers supplying sources would be preferred, as always.)

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I know that both the Gemara and the Shulchan Arukh both forbid entering a church (Beis Avodah Zarah). However, there are many Rishonim and Acharonim and I am unfamiliar with their opinions. Since voting is so important, I wonder whether "et laasot l'Hashem" would apply under these circumstances. Why would you be entering the church's sanctuary in the first place? I suggest that you ask your LOR for psak. – Adam Mosheh Dec 2 '11 at 6:18
This is a sub-branch off the "yes" branch of the question "may one enter a church?" which I believe id very context-dependent. I.e. there have been times and places where communities very strictly forbade it for societal reasons and others in which Jews were not permitted to vote so it was a moot point. So for practical advice be sure to consult your local competent legal authority. – WAF May 20 '12 at 16:16
Gershon and @DoubleAA, I've edited the question to conform with the intent expressed in Gershon's comment. Now, it's just reiterating the preference that applies generally to questions here, which doesn't invalidate the first answer. I still recommend a bounty as a more emphatic way of requesting additional answers. – Isaac Moses Oct 29 '13 at 18:53
@gershon gold ,Igros Moshe OC4:40:26 writes that children to play basketball in a church is assur and one should teach his children to distance themselves from such things even if there are no pictures of idolatry. – sam Oct 30 '13 at 0:24
Remember that, if you prefer to vote in advance, you might be able to cast an advance vote in a place other than a church. Contact your local elections official for details. – unforgettableid Dec 18 '15 at 16:49
up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to this answer at the Institute for Dayanim (an organization I had not previously heard of), voting in a church, not in the sanctuary, is permitted if that's your only option, but you should try to avoid it if you can. They don't address how far you need to go to avoid it (e.g. do you have to leave town for the day so you can use an absentee ballot instead?).

They write:

With regard to entering the basement of a Church for purposes of voting, see Teshuvos V’hanhugos 2:410 and Chai Ha’Levi 4:63, who both write that one can enter the basement for purposes of voting, providing there is nowhere else to vote. However, the case of voting is special, because it is known to all that the place is used for voting, as the poskim mention.

Note that many poskim write with great stringency about entering a Church, and Rashba expresses doubt even concerning entering in cases of pikuach nefesh (under such circumstances, however, Rosh explicitly permits entering). For a leading Sefardi ruling, see (at length) Yabia Omer, vol, 2, Yoreh De’ah no. 11. See also: Birchei Yosef 149:2, Darchei Teshuva 150:2, Igros Moshe 3:129, Minchas Elazar 1:53-3, Yechaveh Da’as 4:45, Binyan Tziyon 1:63, Shearim Metzuyanim B’Halacha 167:9, Rivevos Ephraim 3:496-497.

On distancing oneself from a church in general, they cite: Rema Yoreh De’ah 149:2; Iggros Moshe 3:129; Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 150 and Darchei Teshuva 150:2; Chai Ha’Levi 4:63.

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As long as you don't go into the main sanctuary there should not be a problem.

There is a makhloket poskim as to whether belief in the trinity is forbidden only for a Jew. Many say a non-Jew may follow these tenets since belief in the omnipotent G-d is still present.

However, it is forbidden for a Jew to enter the sanctuary of the church, i.e. where the actual prayer services are held. As it is a marit ayyin as it could be interpreted as identification with the philosophy. However, it is permitted to enter other rooms in a church for non-religious purposes.

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Doesnt the Rama say to distance oneself 4 amos from building? – sam Jul 26 '12 at 4:02
@sam Perhaps he means 4 amot from the sanctuary room. You're not going to forbid entering an airport because they have a chapel somewhere in the building. – Double AA Jul 26 '12 at 15:51
@Dennis That's not a problem with the first line of the answer. It just means that entering that room to vote would be prohibited. – Double AA Oct 29 '13 at 16:42
I would add that there is an out here in Texas. If I participate in early voting, I do not have to vote at the voting place designated for my precinct, I can vote at the local county courthouse annex instead. So if my regular voting spot is a church, I just go to the courthouse. – Dennis Oct 29 '13 at 22:03
@Double AA Comparison with airport is incorrect, for airport's main use is different of the church's. – Daniel Oct 30 '13 at 9:49

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