Updated (5:30 p.m.): Sometimes, it takes a complaint.
Voters at a church in Fridley, MN are no longer marking their ballots under a quilt with the slogan "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" after a citizen complained it made her think of President Obama's secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
After Anoka County and City of Fridley officials got involved, leaders at St. Philip's Lutheran Church agreed to fold up the quilt so the voters couldn't see the offending message. The church's part-time maintenance staffperson and a member of the congregation moved two voting stations and used a ladder to lift hook the bottom of the quilt to the screws holding the top edge to the wall.
Whose Quote on Quilt?
A Fridley woman who would only give her name as Becky demanded that St. Philip's Lutheran Church remove the quilt from the polling place after she voted at about noon Tuesday. Church leaders at first refused, saying the slogan is an African proverb, not a Hillary Clinton quote.
It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us is the title of a 1996 bestselling book by Hillary Clinton, published while she was First Lady.
The woman, who would only give her name as Becky, said she first complained to the election judge. When the church wouldn't take it down, she alerted the Fridley Police Department.
'No Longer Viewable'
Fridley Police Lt. Mike Monsrud said police asked the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota and the Anoka County Attorney's Office for guidance. The U.S. Attorney didn't get involved—"It is not a federal violation," Monsrud said.
But county officials did take up the matter. Anoka County Election Manager Cindy Reichert credited Fridley city staff for finding a resolution.
"The city worked well with the church to make the quilt no longer viewable," Reichert said. "[City Clerk Deb Skogen] did a great job."
Reichert characterized the action as "taking care of a complaint," more than as addressing a violation of law.
The quilt hangs on a wall of the church's Fellowship Hall directly above voting booths. Pastor Jan Hartsook said a member of the congregation made the quilt and offered it when the call went out for wall decorations several months ago.
(Other hangings on the same wall read, "You Make a Difference" and "Blessed Giving through Faith.")
The quilt didn't originally have the slogan, Hartsook said. Its maker added the phrase especially with display at the church in mind.
"The reason she put that on there is, as a congregation we live in a community, Hartsook said. "We take care of one another."
Hartsook said church officials looked up the state statute and decided the quilt wasn't in violation, since it doesn't say "vote for this."
Becky's reaction: "Great!"
Becky said she was standing in line with about 20 other voters at about noon Tuesday when she saw the quilt.
"I was just standing there, looking up. What's that doing there? ...
Becky said she had also notified the Republican Party of Minnesota. She made her strong feelings about the situation clear in an email to Fridley Patch:
I JUST WENT TO VOTE AT THE ST. PHILLIP'S LUTHERAN CHURCH, LIBERAL POLLING PLACE! RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE LINE OF VOTERS IS A WALL HANGING THAT HAS HILLARY CLINTON'S FAMOUS SAYING: "IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD" - UNBELIEVABLE!! I ASKED THEM TO TAKE IT DOWN, AND THEY REFUSED. I'VE CALLED FRIDLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT, AND THEY CLAIM TO BE "CHECKING ON IT". THOUGHT YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW. THE CHURCH CLAIMS IT'S AN AFRICAN PROVERB. I SAY IT GIVES THE VOTERS IN LINE A TIME TO PAUSE AND THINK ABOUT HILLARY, SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. IT'S WRONG AND IT SHOULD BE TAKEN DOWN!!!!!
Another Twin Cities church relented earlier Tuesday when a voter protested a different kind of display. According to the Star Tribune, officials at St. Joseph's Church in St. Paul removed a letter from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis espousing the idea of marriage as only between a man and woman from a display case near where people are voting.