Quick Note: Maetreum of Cybele Makes the New York Times

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 10, 2011 — 13 Comments

The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater’s ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill, covered several times here at The Wild Hunt, has made the New York Times. The usual arguments are repeated, centering on if their house/Maetreum was directly tied to a religious purpose, or if it’s simply a living dwelling with incidental religious trappings. A battle that’s been played out in Catskill for decades, as they try to increase their tax revenue by targeting minority religions, since they’ve openly admitted they lack the resources to go after bigger targets. In this latest article, reporter Peter Applebome notes that the Maetreum “might not be Sunday church religion,” but is clearly religious all the same, and that the law seems to favor them if they can hold out.

“There are, of course, all kinds of questions that can be asked about religious tax exemptions over all, but the Maetreum’s $5,400 tax bill is unlikely to rival the multimillion-dollar exemptions of conventional religions. Still, with unconventional religions on the rise, it poses issues that go beyond the old inn here. The Cybelines are facing possible foreclosure proceedings for the $13,800 they owe and appealing for money. But in the smorgasbord of religious law, they may also have weapons of their own if they want to pursue a discrimination claim. They say they just want to get back to where they were.”

It truly seems that this battle will hinge over who runs out of resources for this fight first. The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater are clearly the underdogs, holding continual fundraisers to offset their mounting legal bills, but the Town of Catskill has also stripped its budget for these kinds of cases bare. The question now is who will blink first? With the New York Times writing a sympathetic article about the tax-fighting Goddess worshipers, it may not be in the town’s best interests to continue.

Jason Pitzl-Waters