Update: Major Legal Victory for Maetreum of Cybele

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 28, 2011 — 19 Comments

The Watershed Post reports that the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater’s ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill, covered several times here at The Wild Hunt, and which recently made the New York Times, has had a major legal breakthrough. Last week Judge George J. Pulver, Jr. of the Greene County Supreme Court issued a searing decision in favor of the Maetreum which “demolished” the town’s reasoning for denying tax exemption on their property.

Vincelette attempted to “strip [the Maetreum] of its religious status … without bothering to set forth any personal expertise or objective basis for his conclusion,” the judge wrote. The argument that religious events at the Maetreum are too infrequent “has no basis,” he wrote, and is a “subjective standard” that “is so vague that it would wreak havoc if it were generally applied to religious organizations in Greene County.” The argument seems to be tailor-made to fit the Maetreum, Pulver wrote. “That [Vincelette’s] standards are directed at [the Maetreum] alone and will never be applied to other churches and charitable organizations seems inescapable.”

Here’s an official statement on the ruling from the Maetreum of Cybele.

“In a seventeen page decision on the motion of the Town of Catskill to dismiss our case and our counter motion for summery judgment the Maetreum was granted a stay from any tax foreclosure action by the county. In three separate places in that decision the Judge commented directly on the clear discriminatory nature of the stated basis for our denial in language that chided the Town attorney for vague nature of his complants and claims. Further, the judge, one by one and with cited precedences denied the legitimacy of all the rationale offered by the Town attorney for denial of our exemption leaving them without a basis for having done so. It fell short of actual summery judgment, just short. The Judge made clear that he expects us to show the religious use of our property in court but also indicated he is already aware we do so and are a legitimate religion. The Judge basically handed us a ready made Federal case against the Town of Catskill if we decide to proceed in that manner as well as more than enough to re-open our complaint with the State Attorney Generals Office of open discrimination by the Town of Catskill. By avoiding mention of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalize Persons Act of 2000, he preserved our use of that as basis of a Federal court case. In short, he communicated that the Town would be well advised to settle with us now. On Monday we will have to file for our 2011 property tax exemption with the Town Assessor. That filing will include citations from this decision. Given that, if we are once again denied we will proceed directly to Federal Court and file the action with the State AG’s office which should trigger a full scale investigation into the Town of Catskill.”

As both the Watershed Post and the statement point out, this case isn’t yet over, but it seems very apparent that the Town of Catskill’s case is quickly falling apart under official scrutiny. Once it is done, the Maetreum of Cybele will have won a major victory for all Pagan faiths looking to build lasting infrastructure, in New York, and across the United States. Anyone wanting to donate to the Maetreum’s legal fees, can still do so at their web site. Congratulations to the Maetreum on this win!

ADDENDUM: The Watershed Post has posted the Maetreum of Cybele Summary Judgment Decision document.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • leslie

    Good. As said many times before, equal is not equal for some, it's equal for all. The county cannot by fiat decide what is a religion and what is not a religion. It's that simple.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Congrats to the Maetreum.

    The judge may have omitted the RLUIPA because of a perceived problem in its application. Just a guess.

  • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com highway_hermit

    It looks like the judge, uh, "Pulver-ized" the town of Catskill.

  • http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com Hecate

    Is there a link somewhere to the SJ opinion?

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I haven't been able to find one, though I bet if you e-mail the Maetreaum they might have a copy to send out.

  • http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com Hecate

    Thanks, Jason. I'll check w/ my paralegal tomorrow and, if he can't find it, I'll bug the Maetreaum.

  • http://www.gallaecentralhouse.blogspot.com Viktoria Whittaker

    You realize, of course, we're going to have endless fun over here with that one! :)

    • http://www.thehighwayhermit.com highway_hermit

      It was such an apt and terrible pun I couldn't help myself…

  • Robin Artisson

    Hail Victory for the Maetreum of Cybele! Long may their Great Mother reign in Catskill, and anywhere else her faithful daughters bring her conquering name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenazfilan Kenaz Filan

    Hail the Maetreum. May their victory be sweet and definitive and may Cybele smile with favor upon their offerings.

  • Crystal7431

    Such good news. May their way remain open and obstacle free.

  • Sta?a

    Thank Goddess!

    May Justice prevail soon!

  • Ceinan Kimbrough

    Blessed be the Powers who watched over those Sisters! May their road ahead be wide open and obstacle free.

  • Jennifer Parsons

    I think the only music applicable here is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3suGfhnT2Sg&fe

    The work done by Cathryn Platine and the priestesses of the Maetreum of Cybele is fantastic– hopefully it will encourage similar groups and projects in the Pagan community.

  • http://erynn999.livejournal.com Erynn

    Congratulations to them, and most excellent luck. May it all be settled favorably, and soon.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    I'm more a fan of this version myself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YCN-a0NsNk&fe

    But YES! It is indeed the only music applicable.

  • http://www.watershedpost.com Julia Reischel

    Julia Reischel of the Watershed Post here. I've just posted a PDF of the judge's decision in our story: http://www.watershedpost.com/2011/judge-towns-tre…. Thanks for reading.

  • Jennifer Parsons

    Thank you for posting this document and updated to this discussion board!