Update: Town of Catskill vs Maetreum of Cybele

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 25, 2011 — 16 Comments

The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, in an ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill, New York, saw their already years-long fight extend further as Catskill appealed a recent ruling in their favor. Now, The Daily Mail reports that the Town of Catskill is publicly committing to fighting this case to the bitter end, no matter how expensive it gets.

“Acting Catskill Town Supervisor Patrick Walsh said Tuesday that if the town didn’t pursue the case, it may open the door to other isolated religious groups to pop up and claim exemptions. “It’s the principle of the whole thing,” Walsh said about continuing the costly legal struggle with the matriarchal clan. “Obviously we hate to be spending the money on the thing.” […] Walsh said the town was already too deep into the case to give up and that significant dollars could be saved by preventing exemptions for illegitimate religions. “If it’s a legitimate religion and they have legitimate use of the property then that’s what we want to find out,” Walsh said.”

In a public statement, Rev Cathryn Platine of the Maetreum of Cybele noted that spending thousands to collect tax from a tiny religious group is apparently more important that collecting tax from Wal-Mart.

“Forget the Constitution, forget freedom of religion, forget equal protection under the law, Catskill’s Town Council alone get to decide which religions are legitimate and which are not. Walsh went one step further and declared the Cybeline Revival illegitimate. The Town of Catskill has apparently indicated a willingness to break the Town budget to discriminate on the basis of religion when they were unwilling last year to fight the demands of Wal-Mart citing the legal costs of doing so. There can be no doubt that Catskill feels they can win by outspending a poor group of spiritual women and intimidate any other religious minority from seeking their legal rights under New York and Federal law, they have now stated so clearly and on the record.”

The Town of Catskill has made its priorities very clear, corporations get tax breaks, but federally recognized religious organizations they don’t like, don’t. The law seems pretty clearly on the side of the Maetreum of Cybele, but Catskill is going to wage a scorched earth legal campaign in hopes the Pagans run out of money and energy first. If you want to help the Maetreum, they are looking for donations towards their legal costs, and hopefully larger rights organizations will sit up and take notice of this case.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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