Small town in Arkansas denies Pagans permission to build a temple.

The mayor of Bumblefuck Beebe, Arkansas was all about the formation of a new temple…until it was revealed that it was to be a Pagan temple, not a Christian one:

A disabled Arkansas veteran seeking to open a pagan temple with his wife in the town of Beebe said he has been denied permits and harassed by both city officials and neighbors.

Bertram Dahl, the high priest of the intended temple, said Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson initially supported his plans to open a place of worship, but changed his tune when he later found out it was Pagan, not Christian.

Bertram Dahl recounts his story, much of which is confirmed on a local news clip at the bottom of this post, in which the city even sent him a letter denying him permission to open his temple before he had even applied to do so:

In a blog post on his website, SeekersTemple.com, Dahl wrote that he then spoke with the town’s parks manager about renting a space in the park. He said the manager was cooperative, and explained that the Boy Scouts rent the entire park out for $600. Because Dahl would only need a fraction of the park, he said the price would be even lower. Dahl encouraged the manager to visit his temple’s website to check out some of the items they would be selling at the celebration.

After visiting the site, the manager likely realized the space would be used to celebrate the 12th annual Arkansas Pagan Pride, and Dahl said he insisted on $600 for one pavilion, and forbid sales of any kind. Dahl then declined.

According to The Raw Story, Dahl and his wife subsequently received a letter declining a permit to open the temple – even though they hadn’t applied yet.

“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?” he said.

After the mayor declined to comment, City Attorney Barrett Rogers told reporters investigating the matter that the property wasn’t zoned for commercial, “which is what’s required for a place of worship or a retail business.” After looking through the city’s zoning laws, however, reporters said it appears they are zoned for a place of worship, but do need a permit.

So after getting run around by a couple city officials, Dahl went to the mayor hoping that the mayor of the town would want justice.  Nope.

Dahl said he eventually went to the mayor’s office on March 14, and an employee there refused to even give Dahl the application to apply for the permit after speaking on the phone with the mayor.

And the story wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory harassment from other loving Christians in the area:

During the permit flap, Dahl also wrote on his blog that the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church across the street from his house installed a revolving light that flashed into his house every 5 seconds, disturbing his children. He visited the church, and asked if they could take the light down. They refused.

A week later, on May 28, Dahl said two officers arrested for Disorderly Conduct and Harassing Communications. He said one of the two men who filed the complaint that led to his arrest he had never even met. Dahl was eventually released after paying $320 and was given a plea date of July 9.

Reporters eventually reached out to the city alderman, who only wanted to make one comment for the record: “That man’s god isn’t my god.”

That man’s god isn’t my god.  That’s the issue, isn’t it?  Whenever Christians wonder why people like me are so opposed to Christianity getting intermingled with government, there you have it.  There’s every reason to believe that the more Christianity slimes its way into our government, the more our government will be deployed to make sure equality is denied to those who are not Christian whether they’re gay people or adherents to other faiths.  You can bet the city Alderman would expect the right to start a church if Christianity were the minority religion and would rightly claim discrimination if permission were denied and if the locals attempted to harass him into submission.  But the citizens of Beebe can’t imagine what being in the minority would be like, and have no problems becoming tyrants so their religion can be special.  Yeah, Christianity makes people more moral.  Gag me.

For the sake of completeness, my father (who has a history in real estate) looked over the zoning regulations for Beebe.  For R-2 zones (like the one in which Dahl’s house is), here’s the relevant section:

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

“CU” means that the listed use is permitted subject to approval as a conditional use per the requirements of Section 14.03.06. Church or other place of worship CU CU CU X……THE SECOND COLUMN IS r-2

A conditional use shall not be granted by the Commission unless and until:

1. A written application for a conditional use is submitted, on such form or forms as the Commission may direct, providing such information as the Commission may require. Such application shall be submitted to the Enforcement Officer at least twenty-one (21) days prior to the date of the public hearing. As a minimum, the application shall provide information regarding;

So despite what Mayor Mike Robertson says, houses of worship can exist in that type of zone and the paperwork for a permit of that nature does exist – at least according to the city regulations.  The mayor is either ignorant of this or lying.

This is why our founders knew that the only way to ensure religious freedom in this country was to keep all religion out of government.

You can email mayor Mike Robertson at mrobertson@beebeark.org.  Here’s the email I sent:

Mayor Robertson,

I’ve seen the story of the man wanting to open a Pagan temple in Beebe and the harassment he has received from other people in town for his efforts.  As an elected official, I hope your primary goal in this is to see all your citizens protected and represented equally.  Therefore if a Christian would be handed the paperwork to apply for a permit to open a house of worship in an R-2 zone, I hope you will make it a point to see that a Pagan is handed the paperwork.

If a city Alderman would be reprimanded for saying “His god is not my god” referencing a Christian, I hope you would see him reprimanded for citing the same reason to deny a Pagan.

I’m already cynical about the situation since, on one local news report, they quoted you as saying there was no permit for which Mr. Dahl could apply.  They also quoted the city attorney saying he had not seen the paperwork applying for a permit (probably because the paperwork was denied to Mr. Dahl).  It cannot be both, and your attorney and your city code seem to think permits exist for building houses of worship in R-2 zones.  It would be easy for one to assume that your insistence to the contrary was yet another attempt to stonewall the introduction of a non-Christian house of worship to the city of Beebe.  However, I will assume the best: that you want to be fair and equitable as the leader of the city, but that you were simply unaware of that paperwork.  It happens.

The charge of your position is to represent all the citizens of Beebe, not just the Christians.  It would be a grievous fault of any Christian to be unable to imagine what it would be like to be the minority religion and to be harassed for merely wanting to do the same as your neighbors.  It’s clear from multiple news reports that there are Christians in Beebe falling short in that way.  I write in the hopes that their mayor is not one of them.

Best,

JT


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