AR Town Bans Pagan Temple

In a move that is almost certain to be unconstitutional, the town of Beebe, Arkansas has refused to allow a man to open a pagan temple — after allegedly telling him that it was okay when they thought it was going to be a church. This is only one side of the story, but if what is alleged is true the city is in for legal trouble:

High Priest Bertram Dahl told KARK that Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson had initially supported his plans to open a Seekers temple and spiritual good shop in the garage behind his home.

“When they knew we were going to open a church, it wasn’t an issue,” he explained. “We explained to [the mayor] the house had a building that we could open the church in, and he had no problem.”

But Dahl said that the city’s attitude changed after learning that members of the temple were pagan.

“We were basically given a cease and desist you know — shut down. We hadn’t even unpacked. We aren’t even open — how are we getting this,” Dahl asked.

Although he had not even applied for permits yet, Mayor Robertson let it be known that he thought that no conditional or special use permits should be given to Dahl. That same day, the city’s code officer sent a letter ordering Dahl to cease and desist.

City Attorney Barrett Rogers insisted to KARK that Dahl could not be allowed to open the temple because his residential property was not “zoned commercial, which is what’s required for a place of worship or a retail business.”

Dahl, however, pointed out that properties that were zoned R-2 were allowed to have places of worship and private nonprofits, according to the city’s code.

Even without that, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons act (RLUIPA) would likely apply here. He should be calling the ACLU.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • dickspringer

    Arkansas has the worst constitution in the country. To be able to be a witness in court you must believe not only in God but also in rewards and punishments in the afterlife. So you are perfectly free to mug an atheist, because he can’t testify against you in court.

    Also, Arkansas not only outlaws nudist resorts but makes it illegal to advocate for the opening of one.

    Don’t these people know that they were on the losing side in the Civil War and therefore have to abide by the US Constitution?

  • raven

    No matter what happens, High Priest Bertram Dahl is going to have trouble. Especially in Arkansas.

    Fundie xians hate Pagans!!! They spent nearly 2,000 years persecuting and massacring them. They thought they had eliminated them. And guess what? They’re back!!!

    I used to get a Pagan newsletter for the west coast. About half the issue was devoted to attacks by xians. Pagans keep a low profile. Because they are in danger of getting fired from their jobs*, kicked out of rental housing, and sometimes their homes and business are vandalized and/or shot up.

    Dahl is going to be lucky if his Temple isn’t torched in the first 5 minutes in a place like Beebe. The local mosque in my area was firebombed by the local xians. There have been dozens of attacks on mosques everywhere in the USA.

    * In one large company, a fundie xian manager systematically went around identifying the Pagans…and firing them. This worked well until they filed legal complaints. The company investigated and fired him instead. The Pagans claim it was because they cast a magic spell but it looks to me more like a few lawyers had something to do with it.

  • peterh

    Bebee’s village idiots need to A) visit the Constitution’s 1st Amendment and B) learn to understand it.

  • Chiroptera

    He should be calling the ACLU.

    Or the ACLJ. I seem to recall that they’re concerned with protecting people’s religious right’s.

  • dingojack

    dickspringer – “Don’t these people know that they were on the losing side in the Civil War and therefore have to abide by the US Constitution?”

    What? Is there a secret law that if you were on the winning side you don’t?

    😀 Dingo

  • John Pieret

    Heh! The mayor, Mike Robertson, is portraying it as just a zoning issue but he has said before:

    It is my opinion and the Beebe City Council’s that government leaders must pray to God as the true leader of the nation and that a nation cannot exist if they are not one nation under God trusting in God as the leader. It is my opinion government has allowed non-believers far too many liberties taking God out of our daily lives. As mayor of this city I will continue to open our meeting with a prayer and a pledge to our country – one nation under God.

    http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/06/15/speaking-of-religion-pagans-stir-a-fuss-in-beebe

    Opps!

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    It’s not a religious issue. It’s a safety issue. That garage door could slide down and hit whatever it is that pagans call their cult followers. You Liberals are supposed to like safety, aren’t you? All he has to do to get approval is to change that door. And also convert to Baptist. Methodist, in a pinch.

  • raven

    Death and Taxes : Pagan Legal Discrimination | Pagan Activist

    paganactivist. com/2014/05/…/death-and-taxes-pagan-legal-discriminatio…

    May 1, 2014 – June, 2006 – The Maetreum of Cybele applied for a 501(c)(3) federal … Just after the IRS approval, the Town of Catskill refused to renew The Maetreum’s property tax … November 2011 – The case went to trial in Greene County with a … win this case and that they feel that we are an “illegitimate religion”.

    There was a similar case in New York.

    The town of Catskill tried to run the Matreum of Cybele out of town by among other things, refusing to grant them a religious property tax exemption.

    They’ve lost in court but the case has been going on for 7 years.

  • D. C. Sessions

    They’ve lost in court but the case has been going on for 7 years.

    Which will, of course, cost the Plaintiffs more than they will ever possibly get back in tax exemptions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.eberhard.73 johneberhard

    I looked up the zoning regs for Beebe.

    b. Moderate Density Residential (R-2) This is a residential district of the same general type and character as that described above for the R-1 District, containing many of the same requirements and restrictions as applicable to the R-1 District, but allowing for a slightly higher population density than permitted in the R-1 District, or not more than 9 residential units per acre. The principal uses of land are for single-family, two-family, and low density multi-family developments, all supported by necessary religious, educational, institutional, and recreational facilities normally required to provide the basic elements of a balanced and attractive residential neighborhood.

    Note: RELIGIOUS…FACILITIES.

  • comfychair

    “Don’t these people know that they were on the losing side in the Civil War and therefore have to abide by the US Constitution?”

    No. They absolutely do not. And if you lived in MS/AL/LA/AR/GA/TX/etc. you would be ashamed for even asking such a naive question.

    They either wholly reject the idea that they actually lost the war, or the more sophisticated ones reject the outcome based on the notion that it was an unjust, illegitimate war and therefore the south has been a territory illegally occupied by a foreign power since 1865.

  • comfychair

    @#10: But… cults and false religions don’t qualify as religions therefore only Whitebread American Baby Jesus Christianity is allowed special privileges.

  • Who Cares

    @johneberhard(#10):

    You forget 1 word, necessary. Since this isn’t a christian church it isn’t necessary.

    /snark /sarcasm /facepalm

  • marcus

    “Fundie xians hate Pagans!!! They spent nearly 2,000 years persecuting and massacring them. They thought they had eliminated them. And guess what? They’re back!!!”

    Yes we are. (I identify as a pagan atheist because I love the pagan metaphor, plus it offends the xians).

    They keep trying to pull of my “Born Again Pagan” bumper sticker, but hey, they’re cheap.

  • chilidog99

    Raven @ 2

    What’s the difference between a pagan casting a magic spell and a Lawyer filing a legal claim? Many lawsuits have a section entitled “Prayer for Relief.”

  • raven

    Yes we are. (I identify as a pagan atheist because I love the pagan metaphor…

    I’m also a sometime Pagan atheist. They have much better parties than the xians.

    A few months ago, I had to update my medical records. I noticed that they wanted to know my religion. I’d left it blank because it was none of their business and completely irrelevant.

    I wrote in Pagan in big block letters.

  • raven

    What’s the difference between a pagan casting a magic spell and a Lawyer filing a legal claim? Many lawsuits have a section entitled “Prayer for Relief.”

    LOL.

    Lawyers do charge a lot more.

  • sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    If Arkansas has no objection to churches, why doesn’t High Priest Bertram Dahl open a pagan church? Why do places of worship have to be zoned commercial? Presumably God or gods are presumed to live in them, so surely they are residential properties?

  • abb3w

    @15, chillidog99

    What’s the difference between a pagan casting a magic spell and a Lawyer filing a legal claim? Many lawsuits have a section entitled “Prayer for Relief.”

    Both are forms of Shamanic Mediation, with trappings of Sacred Ritual. Lawyers tend to be more effective, generally having on the rough order of a 50% success ratio.

  • madgastronomer

    Dahl has contacted the ACLU, and they have not yet taken up the case.

  • madgastronomer

    Oh, also it’s Seekers Temple, not Seekers temple. Seekers Temple is the name of the church, rather than Seekers being the name of the temple. Raw Story’s mistake, I know, but it irks me.

  • yoav

    This is a double win for fundie mayor. First he get to make the non-christians residents of the town aware that they are not welcome and then, when he inevitably get smacked by the courts, he get to play the prosecuted christian card.

    Now, the doomed court case would cost the city money that could have otherwise be used for something productive but it’s not like mayor Robertson think his job is to serve the interests of the entire population instead of grandstanding for jeezoos.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    Maybe the KKKristians should change the wind god’s name to MYWH

  • http://dontlinkmebro F [i’m not here, i’m gone]

    MYWH or the HYWH.

  • birgerjohansson

    “El or Hel*”

    *(Yes , I know this is from the Norse religion, not the YHWH one)

  • birgerjohansson

    Looking back at the first Discworld book, this town may be on the site of a temple of Bel-Shamharoth*. Because the time seems to have stood still there.

    *(even time is afraid to go near that god)

  • eric

    Arkansas has the worst constitution in the country. To be able to be a witness in court you must believe not only in God but also in rewards and punishments in the afterlife. So you are perfectly free to mug an atheist, because he can’t testify against you in court.

    Maryland’s constitution has as similar clause, where they require belief in God, afterlife, punishments etc. to be a juror (rather than a witness). However both these clauses (and similar things in other state constitutions) are unenforcible because of SCOTUS rulings made after the constitutions were written. They’re just legal history now. So, atheists are allowed to testify in an Arkansas court…and Maryland atheists cannot cite their “religious beliefs” as a legitimate excuse to get out of serving jury duty. Much as some may want to. :)