What’s Happening in Beebe, Arkansas?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 17, 2014 — 147 Comments

The Arkansas Times, at their blog, notice that there’s something going on in the town of Beebe.

“Heard of the Seekers Temple? If not, I expect you will before long. It’s a pagan temple and store that says it has run into a slew of headaches in attempting to pursue its business and religion in Beebe, Ark. Bertram and Felicia Dahl, the high priest and priestess of Seekers Temple, have this extensive account, “Problems in Beebe.” They say Beebe officials had welcomed their move from El Paso until they found out they were pagans.”

As the Arkansas Times noted, the Dahl’s narrative is eye-opening, and a reminder of how local officials can work against you if they don’t like who you are, or what you believe.

Seekers Temple“Mayor Robertson said that we were not zoned for a church or business, so we pointed out two churches across the street.  He said that our side of the street is not zoned for it, so we pointed out commercial property for sale next to us and a business out of a barn next to that and a business out of a house next to that (run by our alderman).  He said that the business zone ends at our property and was not allowed from there on down, so we pointed out a business next to us on the other side, run out of a home.  He said that in Beebe, they zone individual property and ours was not zoned for it, so we ask what we had to do to get it re-zoned.  He said we do not have enough parking, so we pointed out that we have more parking than some of the restaurants in town and much more than the other businesses run out of homes.  He said there was no way we were having our church there, so we ask about just opening the store and keeping our group as a small in-house meeting of friends.  He admitted that he can not stop us from having friends over, but that he would be watching and he would break it up if we had too many people over (true to his word, police sit and watch our house often).  He said we would have to speak with the city attorney about opening a store and what we could have in it and he would have that person call us (this never happened) and that was the end of our meeting.  We have ask many times since then, but he has not granted us another meeting.”

It gets worse, as there have been accusations of continual harassment by a local Christian church, and the arrest of Bertram Dahl when he tried to appeal to the church on their own property.

“On 2014 May 21, as the members of the church were gathering, I walked into the church and ask for there attention.  I told them what was going on and how the Pastor (which is who we thought the Bishop was at the time) and the Elders were ignoring our pleas.  I asserted that we did not believe they would all approve of what was going on and ask for their help in talking to their church leaders about not harassing us.  I left the church and went home in the hopes of having a meeting with some of the members and finding a solution.  Instead of having members show up, I was ask to come out of my home by three police officers and told we were no longer welcome at the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church.  The officers told me I would have to take the matter to the courts and they left.  I have not been over there since.   

    The next week, to the day, 2014 May 28, two officers came and arrested me for Disorderly Conduct and Harassing Communications.  This had been filled by Jason E. Scheel (who had in fact harassed us) and John Scheel (whom we have never met nor talked to).  The City must have informed Mr. Scheel that they were coming to arrest me as is evident by his sitting in a car across the street watching me be arrested (may I also point out at this time that they did NOT read me my rights).  We had to pay $320 to get me out of jail with a plea date of July 9.”

On the Seeker’s Temple’s official Facebook page, they further clarify their current status.

Seekers Temple house (Google maps).

Seekers Temple house (Google maps).

“Thank you to all the people who are giving us suggestions. We need to be clear on a few things that seem to be confusing.  We are not a new temple trying to open. We have in fact been open, and legal, for over five years. The reason Beebe is an issue is because we moved here.  We do not have the money for a legal battle and that is why we are asking for your help. We need letters saying you want us open in Beebe and we need people to stand with us at city hall to show that the public wants us to exist. All of this is spelled out at www.seekerstemple.com/problems-in-beebe . Please, before you comment, go read the story.  And truly, thank you all for taking your time to get involved at whatever level you are able. Blessed Be you All.”

Unlike other cases, I don’t think this is one where the local mayor will be easily pressured into grudging tolerance. As the Arkansas Times points outMayor Mike Robertson has some firm ideas of who should be in control (ie Christians). 

“Please remember in the coming November election for leaders of this nation to elect only those who will stand firm doing the will of God and not their will. If placing God or the simple mentioning of his holy name in this newsletter is offensive to some; so be it. I do not and will not apologize, ever, for giving him the praise he is due for all that he has done for our blessed country. Not now, not ever in the future, should we turn our backs to our creator.”

So what happens next? The temple is asking for fiscal, legal, and local support to help them navigate this seeming attempt to run them out of town through the exercise of “soft” power.

“We are asking that people show up at City Hall at 6:30pm on the fourth Monday of each month until we are heard and/or donate to Seekers Temple by mail or at PayPal account SeekersTemple@yahoo.com and/or write your letter of support in opening our temple and store in Beebe, AR. and send it to our address or by email to Priest@SeekersTemple.com”

The Wild Hunt is currently seeking an interview with Bertram and Felicia Dahl, and we should hopefully have that up later this week. In the meantime, it sounds like Arkansas Pagans have problems in Beebe, and it may be time for national Pagan organizations to step in and offer help.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Jaguar in Arkansas

    Arkansas Pagans have issues all over Arkansas. The more rural the area, the worse the problems. I am lucky to live just north of a university town (Fayetteville) and just southwest of the most eclectic getaway in the state (Eureka Springs) but even here, there are pockets where if you are not of their religion, you keep your mouth shut.

    • Nicholas Stalnaker

      Isn’t rural what a pagan actually is?

      • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

        Not for a long time, now.

  • Cara Randall

    It makes me sick that this kind of thing can go on with impunity. Aren’t there ways to get the case heard higher up so someone with reasoning ability can reinforce that we’re supposed to have freedom of religion in this country??

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      It’s hard to get cases like this heard higher up because the complainant either quits or the jurisdiction backs down once they have to defend their position in front of a court instead of one of their own boards. In either instance there is no case to be appealed.Something like this happened in Florida more than a decade ago. The town let the Pagans twist in the wind, the Pagans persisted, and the town finally threw in its hand rather than appear in court.A case like this might go higher up if, after the jurisdiction throws in the towel, the complainants sue for abuse of process and seek to recover the fees they have to spend. But it’s all too human to depart from the battlefield once you’ve won.

    • Veracity

      Pagans often cannot continue litigation to appeal to a higher court for lack of funds, which is why this temple is asking for financial help as well as moral support through letters, etc.

      Consider how much money even a wide spot in the road town like Beebe can put toward a court case versus how much a small temple and a couple running a small business who just moved recently can pay for legal representation.

  • Hecate_Demetersdatter

    Jason, thanks for this important report. The continued Christian persecution of Pagans has to be stopped.

    • sacredblasphemies

      I wouldn’t be so free with the word “persecution”. This is prejudice and it is wrong, certainly. But this is not persecution.

      • Hecate_Demetersdatter

        Actually, it is. Prejudice put into action is persecution. Merriam Webster says that persecution is:

        “: to treat (someone) cruelly or unfairly especially because of race or religious or political beliefs

        : to constantly annoy or bother (someone).”

        • sacredblasphemies

          OK. I stand corrected, technically speaking. Still, I feel that the term “persecution” is more suited to killings as what is happening to the Christians in Syria or Egypt rather than something smaller-scale such as this. (Mind you, this does not diminish the plight these folks have been dealing with. I have all the sympathy in the world for them and hope they win their battles and are allowed to keep their home open as a worship center legally.)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I’m with Hecate. The Christians would certainly call it persecution if the tables were turned–if officials of a mythical Pagantown, CA, gave this kind of grief to some Presbyterians trying to start up a church.

          • sacredblasphemies

            I’m unnerved by calling an entire religion “The Christians” as if they are all of one mind. It turns them into ‘the enemy’ to be hated and despised. Christianity is a huge religion of many different denominations and many different opinions. Yes, the people fighting us Pagans in this instance (and in most) are Christians and do so in the name of their religion. But it is important to remember that they do not speak for an entire religion. Many of my friends and loved ones are Christian and are not bigoted against Pagans in the slightest.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Christians across a wide variety of sects hold in common the meme of being persecuted in history and in the present. I find the noun appropriate in this context.

          • sacredblasphemies

            Christians are still being persecuted in the present. It’s not just a meme. (However, it is most certainly not happening in America where they make up a large percentage of the three branches of government and a huge majority of Congress and the population of the US.)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Nobody said “just a meme.” A meme is simply an idea with legs, which may or may not reflect truth.

          • Hecate_Demetersdatter

            I didn’t say “The Christians.” I said that “The continued Christian persecution” of Pagans needs to stop. The people who are persecuting these Pagans are the members of a Christian church and a Christian politician. As you admit, most of the people persecuting Pagans — I’d add “in the US” to that– are Christians. The word choice was accurate and descriptive of what is happening. That entire religious group is correctly referred to as “Christian.” I made no comment about “all Christians.”

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Sacredblasphemies was replying to me, and I did use the word as he described and defended that use above.

          • Lena Haber

            Hecate, it was good of you to take the time to further clarify your statement, although personally, I thought it was clear enough when you first stated it. But it’s good to take the time to patiently explain *exactly* what we mean if there is any confusion, and you’ve done that very well. We are not bashing Christians, we’re just trying to defend ourselves against poor treatment we’ve received from members of the Christian faith, poor treatment that run the gamut from simple insults to bona fide hate crimes. If we treated Christians with one tenth of the viciousness they’ve treated us with, the nation would be in an uproar. But since, as is shown blatantly in the situation in the situation in Beebe, AR, if it’s “just” Pagans being maligned, harassed, and persecuted — nobody cares.

          • Lena Haber

            I must respectfully but absolutely disagree with the assertion that many Christians are not bigoted against Pagans. By definition, Paganism is the very antithesis of Christianity. At best, there may be *some* Christians who are not anti-Pagan, but I strongly disagree that there would be “many” of them who would be so kind toward an opposing belief system, much less so open-minded.

          • sacredblasphemies

            It depends upon the given population of Christians you’re talking about, I imagine. Here in liberal Boston, among progressive Christians, I’ve never heard or seen any sort of anti-Pagan bigotry. At best, there are people that have not heard of Paganism and might have weird ideas about who they are and what they do, but they’re generally curious and want to understand more.

            As such, I know many Christians very well who are not in the least bigoted against my Pagan practices. Is this representative of all of Christianity? Absolutely not. It’s not even representative of all of American Christianity. But Christianity is a huge ancient multifaceted religion.

            Why should the bigots get to define what Christianity is and is not?

          • Veracity

            I also know many Christians who are not prejudiced again Pagans or any other religious groups. But many are prejudiced against other religions, whether that prejudice is expressed as a concerted unwelcome effort to convert others to their faith insisting all other faiths are wrong or by having an innocent party wrongfully arrested while lying about zoning or by causing physical harm as well as emotional and mental harm.

            Please consider this: How often do we hear of Pagans being harassed and persecuted by Buddhists? Hindus? Atheists? Agnostics? By anyone of any other religion or no religion? I have never heard of this happening. It is always those calling themselves Christians. They give the rest of their religious group a bad name.

          • Bianca Bradley

            How many Pagans also show prejudice against Christians? How much experience do Pagans have with Hindu’s and Buddhists? What are the culture associated with Hinduism and Buddhism, are we likely to know if they are prejudiced against any Pagan, if they keep it to themselves? Depending on the Atheist, you are viewed as just as delusional as the Christians.

          • sacredblasphemies

            Yes, you’re right, but we shouldn’t allow that to happen by lumping all Christians together.Are the people harassing Pagans Christians? Absolutely! But it’s not all Christians. That’s simply my point. We don’t like it when it’s done to us. It’s also wrong when we do it to others. Let’s not play into this game of Christians vs. Pagans.

          • Deborah Bender

            I think it’s more complicated than that. In the Indian subcontinent, there’s a long history of communal violence between Hindus and Muslims, and Muslims aren’t always the aggressors. We think of Buddhism as a peaceful and tolerant religion, but Buddhists in Myanmar have been organizing pogroms against the Muslim minority in that country. Buddhism in its early centuries was a very active missionary religion.

            Some religions have a greater inclination than others to persecute non believers, and I would put Christianity and Islam at the top of that list, but no religion can be counted on to be tolerant and non-violent in all circumstances.

            Don’t forget that the tendency of some Christians to view themselves as an embattled, persecuted minority, which seems laughable when it’s coming from Roman Catholic bishops or a wealthy evangelical church, is rooted in the historical fact that early Christianity was outlawed, suppressed and violently persecuted by several pagan Roman emperors.

            The narrative of Jesus’s trial and execution and the Christian martyr stories are told to Christians from childhood and give many of them a perspective in which Christians are always the persecuted, not the persecutors. This is projection of the shadow and it can happen to anybody. We should take care that it doesn’t happen to us.

          • Truthwhip

            Not sure if my comment will be welcomed here or not… Yet, I feel the need to try to find common cause in any event…

            As an Agnostic Atheist (which I guess here would fall under the term “heathen”), I would have to agree with you. I’d also like to add that even as we try our best to remain neutral and non-hostile towards Christians, it needs to be stated plainly that people who fall outside of Christianity these days need to become aware that (in a general sense) it is right now being radicalized in this nation. We may not be able to see that clearly amongst our friends and loved ones I know, but nonetheless, it is becoming increasingly clear that Christianity now poses more of danger in America (to those who fall outside of their views) than it has in many decades.

            This radicalization may have started on the political right (hello, Fox News!), but it is beginning to spread in waves across our entire society. It is authoritarian, and often fascistic in it’s outlook — and it is painting those who are not Christian as people who are completely devoid of morality and incapable of ethical behavior (while ironically displaying an incredible lack of both in their attitudes and actions toward us). These are folks who seem as if they are going to be increasingly hard to reason with, and all of us are likely to notice a decrease in basic human empathy, and an increase in the law acting as a hammer that views people who aren’t Christians as a nail. For this reason, I am really hoping that those who fall outside of Christianity will learn to support, help, and work together.

            And towards that end, I for one definitely intend to donate towards the cash that is surely going to be needed for the Dahls to fight for their rights.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I like most of what you say but I am unsure how you define “agnostic atheist” as Heathen.

          • Truthwhip

            Heh. I don’t know your terminology. I thought that Atheists were considered heathens…

          • Harold Rogers

            There is no such thing as an agnostic atheist. Quit making stuff up, and run along back to the coffee shop with the Poly-Sci 101 students from the community college.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I’m a Heathen – I believe in the pre-Christian, Germanic gods, and strive to see the world through the Germanic cultural lens.

            It is often conflated with Paganism, but some of us maintain that there is a distinction (myself included).

          • Harold Rogers

            Nevermind this lady. If you look at her history you will see she posts primarily on RawStory, a site populated mainly by pseudo-intellectuals and high school hipsters. It has a reputation in the progressive on-line community as being the TMZ of progressive sites.

            I replied to ONE of her comments and she has since harassed me at least 10 separate times, calling ME a stalker.

            As for agnostic atheist, there is no such thing. Ask any knowledgeable atheist or agnostic, you are on or the other. She thinks using these words make her sound smart, but in reality, she doesn’t even know what they mean.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I’ve heard the term “agnostic atheist” before. Sometimes described as “soft” atheism – it is a position of believing in the inexistence of gods (and similar), but acknowledging they may well be wrong (lack of knowledge).

          • Harold Rogers

            You are a joke. Please go back to RawStory and your TMZ/National enquirer type sites. We have real conversation here, not the silly pseudo-intellectualism you and your hipster friends engage in.

            Thank You.

          • Truthwhip

            There is such a thing as Agnostic Atheism, but I get it. People like me are not welcome. It doesn’t matter though, despite that, I still intend to contribute towards the Dahls, and wish you all luck going forward.

          • Harold Rogers

            Flagged. You are not only an idiot, but you are nuts!

          • http://quakerpagan.org Cat C-B

            “Paganism…is the very antithesis of Christianity?” Uh, no. At least mine isn’t: I don’t define my Paganism in relationship with Christianity at all, and I’m quite at a loss why other Pagans feel the need to do so.

            I also think that your attempt to qualify how many Christians are anti-Pagan is open to debate–though I object much, much more strongly to the idea that Paganism is Christianity’s anything: antithesis, synthesis or any other “is.”

            Ideally, if Christian theology disappeared from the earth tomorrow, Pagan groups would be affected… not at all. We are not Them. We are not even anti-Them. We are ourselves.

          • Franklin_Evans

            Cat, Lena will reply for herself, but I understand her statement from a different angle… and Lena, I would recommend a different phrasing for it.

            Christians define Paganism as the antithesis of Christianity. For the sake of brevity, I hereby invoke the same qualifiers and explanations Hecate eloquently posted above.

            I don’t sweep all Christians with the Broom of Sweeping Generalities. I do, however, insist that the core tenets which motivate their definition are the issue, and those Christians we trust and accept as allies either reject one or more of those tenets or ignore them to a certain extent. The Christians of Beebe represent those who adhere to and apply (with vigor) those tenets.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            It is almost ironic that the “good” Christians are the ones more likely to be a problem, isn’t it?

          • Gabe

            This issue isn’t small scale to the ones taking the punishment at the hands of a goverment who is using it’s power to futher a Christian cause. If Christians are being killed just for being Christians in Syria I will stand with you and say that is wrong. However that is a seperate issue and has nothing to do with Bebee Arkansas.

          • Hecate_Demetersdatter

            Well you, like Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland, may “feel” that the word should mean something other than what it means. But what the dictionary says that it DOES mean is “to constantly annoy or bother” — actions that are far less sever than killing people. And shining a bright light into someone’s home, especially when you’ve been asked to stop, and showing up at someone’s door to prostelytize, especially when you’ve been asked to stop, count as “constantly annoy[ing] or bother[ing].” Some of the Christian persecution of Pagans here goes farther and slips into “treating someone unfairly especially because of religious beliefs.” So regardless of what you “feel,” the use of the term was completely appropriate and in more than a “technical” sense.

          • sacredblasphemies

            As I said, I agree that your usage complies with the dictionary definition. Many blessings!

  • the truth about lonoke county

    I am truly not surprised. I once thought of opening a alternative religious store here in Lonoke but stopped when I realized how prone to violence the people in this area towards non-christians. I would be very careful about being very open in Lonoke county. They have already sent the police to harass you it will not be long if they can not force you to move out legally, they will turn to violence and because the towns government is also bigoted bible thumpers they will cover up arson, or possibly even murder to get rid of you. I can not stress enough how willing these so called god fearing people are to turn to violence and they will happily hurt you in the name of their religion. Blessed Be and I wish you well but I do not think you will win this fight due to the fear and bigotry being to deep seeded in these people. I have to hide my beliefs or lack thereof in this county for fear of them harming myself or my family. (the messed up part is they claim to be the ones persecuted, and they fail to see the irony of them threatening others)

    • Lena Haber

      A dear friend of mine, a senior citizen in excellent standing in her community, tried to establish a metaphysical store in Altus, Oklahoma. She received so much harassment, *including* death threats against herself and her family members, and threats of violence against her home, that she ended up closing the store. If anyone, ever, tried to keep a Christian store from opening by similar means — can you imagine the hullabaloo it would cause? But such can be done to a Pagan or a Witch, and it doesn’t matter to anyone. That’s really sad.

    • http://www.angelsparrow.com valarltd

      We considered one in West Memphis. The local community wouldn’t stand for it, and the Memphis pagans treat driving across the bridge as if it’s a trek to deepest Antarctica (and yet have no trouble expecting us to find our way to the gatherings on their side.) The market’s not there. And violence is always an issue.

  • Bianca Bradley

    Why haven’t they contacted the ACLU, who would be far more able to pressure the city to comply.

    • Oididio

      I was just about to post the same… the threshold for the involvement of the ACLU definitely seems to have been surpassed if all of the allegations are accurate.

      • Bianca Bradley

        If not the ACLU, there are many many many charitable legal organizations that could handle this.

    • AnantaAndroscoggin

      Why bother to call the ACLU?

      The one time we had trouble enough for me to try the Maine ACLU out for help, they couldn’t be bothered to even find out what was the problem we were having before saying they couldn’t help us and hung up.

      • Franklin_Evans

        It hurts to be on the receiving end of that, I know this personally. I’m not defending the response you got from the Maine chapter: Their resources are limited, especially at the chapter level, and that could be the simplest explanation for “couldn’t”. Not waiting for you to describe the case was just plain rude. :(

        I don’t know how common this is, but I believe it’s relevant to mention that some local cases were taken by ACLU chapters because a local donor made an ad hoc contribution to make it possible.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        I had a milder but similar experience with the Ohio ACLU, but there have been accounts of real ACLU help on TWH. I guess it depends on how seriously the local chapter takes Pagan issues.Lady Liberty League is another possibility.

      • Deborah Bender

        The kinds of criticism I’m reading here, knocking the ACLU for turning down cases, drives me nuts. Peoples’ rights are being violated every day in every part of the country. Litigation is time consuming and expensive. If you went to a hospital with a non life threatening illness, and the hospital did not have the capacity to treat one tenth of the sick people who come to it, you might be turned away. It’s called triage.

        The ACLU gets no tax money. It is funded entirely by donations. I donate every month to support the ACLU’s work. Other people don’t, but expect it to be there for them.

        Based on what Jason wrote, this couple’s grievance amounts to a business dispute. It’s not unusual for either a business or a church to run into resistance and arbitrary application of zoning laws when it tries to set up in a settled community. Sometimes it’s religious or ethnic discrimination; sometimes the locals just don’t like newcomers making changes.

        The local government of Beebe may be abusing its regulatory discretion and discriminating on religious grounds. A mild attempt has been made to intimidate the Dahls. The welcome mat has been rolled up, but no one (so far) has arrested them or picketed or vandalized their property or tried to run them out of town.

        The Dahls have several courses of action available and they are taking one, which is to alert the local press and the pagan community and ask for support. They clearly have some financial resources. Were I in their shoes, I would consult a lawyer, but I wouldn’t expect him or her to take the case pro bono.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          A Pagan mom in my neck of the woods was being harassed by fundamentalist Guardians ad Litem trying to convert her minor daughter. The GaLs kept the case alive even after a family court judge had ruled the mother needed no further supervision, just to keep this access. I brought this to the North Central Ohio ACLU chapter, which met up the street from me.Turns out the chapter president was a liberal Christian minister who recognized all the names on the list of rogue GaLs and thought of them as the good guys. The chapter delayed action for several monthly meetings, each of which my wife and I attended, until we were on vacation, and then ditched it. I brought it up with the state affiliate; they backed their chapter. When I got one of those cheesy “Have you let your membership lapse because we did our job?” letters from national ACLU I told them exactly why. They said they’d get back to me and never did.This is a nominally secular organization infiltrated by liberal Christians at the grass roots, with the rest of the hierarchy holding each other up in the best good-ol-boy fashion. This is my ACLU Pagan story and as much as I like and admire you, Deborah, I can’t help it if it drives you nuts.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Baruch, did that ever get resolved? If not, she can contact the state Bar Association ethics committee and file a complaint and they will, if they find grounds for it, spank the rogue lawyers.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            That would be a good idea if GaLs were lawyers. They’re not.It got resolved by the Pagan mom (who was later the Priestess who initiated me) pestering the living daylights out of all bureaucrats involved until they quit. The buzz a few years later was that someone tried to use a soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s religion in a custody dispute and was told, “We don’t touch religion in Lorain County.”

          • Deborah Bender

            That’s a great story and a good example to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing it.

          • Bianca Bradley

            How can you be a Guardian ad Litum and not be an attorney? Huh Seperate issue ok. Just thought I’d toss out a solution if it was still being a pain.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I dunno. Welcome to Ohio.

          • kenofken

            Lots of them are just social workers or even volunteers who go through some training program.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I dunno, I figure if you are going to be an advocate for the child, in a court, you should at least know the law. Then again I think family law needs to be looked at harder and revamped.

          • Deborah Bender

            Times have certainly changed. I can (just barely) remember when the ACLU was dominated by pinko Jews. That didn’t stop them from defending the right of a Nazi organization to parade through a Jewish neighborhood in Skokie, Illinois. My father, who had the family ACLU membership before me, took a hard look at that and decided the ACLU were acting on consistent principle. He remained a contributor until the day he died.

            Thank you for the compliments.

          • Baruch Dreamstalkr

            I well remember the Skokie case, agreed with the decision and was proud of the organization. No doubt some of the anger you may have noticed in my account is rooted in bitter disappointment.

          • kenofken

            I don’t doubt there were agendas as you describe, but people need to keep in mind that the ACLU is not really a legal aid society. They take a very small percentage of the many thousands of cases sent to them each year. They tend to limit themselves to cases where big and recurrent and potentially precedent-setting issues of law are at stake. They shy away from cases that turn on factual disputes, and partly for that reason almost never get involved in domestic/family law matters. They also won’t help you fight non-government entities, for the most part. It sounds like the case you describe involved a fundamentalist group screwing your friend because they had more resources than she did. The government wasn’t offending in a way that would draw the ACLU’s interest. It’s more productive to evaluate the ACLU for what it is rather than what we wish it was. I still support their work and sometimes thrown them a few bucks, but there are also other groups doing fine work – Americans United, Lady Liberty League etc. The sad fact of the matter is that no one of these organizations, or even all of them together, have the resources to even begin to address the enormous disparities of access to legal help in this country.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Thus why I don’t really support them, but do support F.I.R.E. Cases like this are more imp to me than whether or not some stupid statue is in a courthouse.

          • kenofken

            That “stupid statue”, or perhaps more often, that stupid Ten Commandments monument, is done as a bald assertion of Christian dominion over public spaces. Letting that ride is a false economy over the long run. Those same people are going to feel emboldened to step on your rights in every other context, including zoning, family law etc. When you’re fighting calculated attacks on your civil rights, there is no such thing as a “small” case.

          • Bianca Bradley

            No there not. It’s done because some people don’t like it. It was there as honor to the foundations of what some perceived the law. Having that statue there doesn’t really hurt anyone. What is going on here does.

            Nor is it the 10 commandments in court, it’s also Christmas displays in the town and many other things. I don’t support that, and I’d rather they focus on other issues. They don’t, so ergo I would and will support other ProBono places.

          • kenofken

            The fundamentalist party line is that these public religious displays are just neutral historical displays that are unfairly targeted by hypersensitive liberals and atheists. If you can assert that here and walk a line, you’re either: A)One of them B)An attorney or PR rep for them or C)Hopelessly gullible and/or uneducated about the issue.

            The idea that these folks are erecting and litigating Biblical monuments simply to curate the history of jurisprudence is 100% pure, weapons-grade bullshit. It’s a cheesy and hollow legal fiction. None of them have any serious credentials as legal historians, or historians of any sort. They never propose to create exhibits which give a balanced treatment of the many historical documents which have much stronger ties to our own system of law. In fact, so far as I know, they have never proposed or built anything other than sectarian Christian displays.

            These organizations are dominionist groups who have the stated agenda of redefining American as an explicity Christian nation. They and their supporters are very open about this in all of their statements outside of the actual papers they file in these cases. There, they invoke this fiction which says the Ten Commandments are just shorthand for our legal history. The cross? It’s just, you know, a universal respect for the dead thing. A Nativity creche? Just a good cheer ornament!

            These people are beneath contempt for that reason alone. How little respect do you have to have for your own gods to deny them so you can whore them out for a culture war agenda in order to win the state’s imprimatur to make them “real”?

            Some of the key leaders in this movement have argued, in cases which directly affect us, that the First Amendment was only meant for Christianity or Abrahamic religions.

            I get that the pagan community has its political conservatives too, but don’t expect to be taken seriously if you’re going to shill for the worst of Christianists and try to tell us they’re not such bad guys and nothing worth worrying about.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I actually do believe that position and am neither of your letters. As for none of them having any credence of legal historians, you might stop negating the heritage foundation. A lot of towns and the like use them or other really good attorneys that are funded from the Christians. Towns and schools usually need those attorneys, to defend against the ACLU.(you might want to read up on the other side of the story sometime)

            B. It isn’t a civil rights issue for me, it doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s just needlessly nitpicky. I don’t support those lawsuits. I would much rather money be spent on cases that are presented here, and other cases that actually do effect people, and not their “feelings or things that outrage them”.

            More than that, I really despise the beigeing down of Christmas and holiday displays, because someone may get outraged. If other religions can also participate, than great and they should. However the blandness displayed recently turns my stomach. That can be directly attributed to these lawsuits.

            I really don’t mind or care that these groups want to have a Christian America. Why? I understand what separation of powers are. I also understand that frankly they won’t ever get it. You know what, I want an America that is free of political correctness, that is ok with breastfeeding and is more sexually ok with itself. We all want stuff. It doesn’t make them contemptible.

            They aren’t my enemies and I refuse to go to that mindset. They are Americans with a different view that I can sometimes agree with. Also generally they are a heck of a lot more tolerant, than you give them credit for, and in my dealings with them(yeah I’m the weirdo that makes friends with Fundy Baptists) frankly are a lot more tolerant than many Pagans I’ve had personal dealings with. Plus they argue in a more mature manner.

            They are no more contemptible than PETA and Greenpeace, who are equally annoying at times. It doesn’t make me gullible that Americans have different political viewpoints and wants from the system.

            I really don’t care if you don’t take me seriously. If your are going to be mad, because i will argue the other side, express my opinion and agree with the Christians at times, that isn’t my problem.

            I also refuse to go to the OMG the world is going to end and we are going to be burnt at the stake, because they want Prayer in school(already been ruled on countless times)(want to be left alone to read their Bible in school, also been ruled on and frankly I support the kids choice in the matter)Want some fantasized 1950′s back(they at least will listen and take me seriously when I show them history and think when I point out it’s a fantasy not rooted in reality).

            If you wish to be intolerant of said Christians go ahead. I however will not. If you want to argue the slippery slope that these Christians are bad and evil and we will all be made to be Bible toting ones, I will not agree with you.

            Those Christians you are degrading are the woman who defended me to her family and was there at my second childs birth and held my leg. It is her husband who thanked me for not jumping down his throat, when he offered opinions different than me. It is the various clergy and potential clergy I have encountered. In short they are people I know. Your fears have not proven to be true, in my dealings with them.

            Beyond that, welcome to American and what freedom of speech and the 1st amendment entail.

          • Truthwhip

            Well said.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            This was indirect government harassment. The GaLs were exploiting the family court system to keep their campaign alive.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Thus, there should have been oversight and an ethics board to spank them, or remove them.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            An oversight board is a great idea in theory, but the facts of this case involved people using their know-whom of the system to game the system.

        • Bianca Bradley

          This is not a minor business dispute. This is 1st amendment grounds. Now maybe the ACLU, which is well funded may not take it, that doesn’t mean that other groups won’t take it either. To expect someone to hire a lawyer, which for this type of nonsense could be thousands of dollars, without having a good ProBono source is not pragmatic.

          If you volunteer with the ACLU, then maybe you might know of other organizations that could help, and that would be more worthwhile, then ranting at people talking about their bad experiences.

          I know F.I.R.E came about because the ACLU didn’t accept conservatives cases about being censored on college campuses. http://www.thefire.org/about-us/mission/

          • Deborah Bender

            I don’t volunteer for the ACLU. I send them a monthly contribution and read their magazine to find out what they are doing with the money.

            Your suggestions of other organizations that do pro bono work are constructive. That goes along with my point that the ACLU can’t do everything.

            I didn’t call it a minor dispute because for the Dahls, it’s major. Having moved house and business in the expectation that they would be welcomed, and then finding that the actual situation was very different must be frustrating and expensive.

            For someone not directly involved, IMO, putting regulatory obstacles in the way of a house church is less outrageous than putting regulatory obstacles in the way of a formally organized congregation of hundreds of families who want to build a house of worship or to purchase a church that another congregation has vacated. That happens All The Time, with equally lame excuses, to Jewish, Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist congregations. Sometimes to Protestants as well, though maybe not in Arkansas. It would happen to Pagans if they organized themselves in bigger meeting groups than a house church can handle. It’s more likely that the ACLU would take on a case like that, not because of which religious minority is impacted but because of the number of people whose rights are violated.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          “…no one (so far) has arrested them…”

          “…two officers came and arrested me for Disorderly Conduct and Harassing Communications.” – the Seeker’s Temple’s official Facebook page

          Seems you missed that bit.

          • Deborah Bender

            I don’t do Facebook, but I should have reread Jason’s article carefully before posting my comment.

          • Wolfsbane

            What does Facebook have to do with it? The arrest is clearly mentioned on THIS page, in this article. DUH.

          • kenofken

            That is a hugely important distinction. It’s one thing when official harassment means hanging up your permit in channels. When law enforcement is turned on people for political reasons, it is extraordinarily toxic and dangerous both to the victims and even to the existence of rule of law and democracy itself.

            These are people who have a legal monopoly on the use of deadly force in our society, and they have fairly broad discretion on when to use that. They have the powers to deprive you of your liberty, for which you have no immediate real-time recourse. It becomes a whole different ball game when harassment and intimidation is carried out by law enforcement under the color of enforcing criminal law.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            It would seem that the police are there purely to protected the vested interests of the economic elite, these days.

          • Deborah Bender

            “These days”? Has there been a change for the worse?

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I don’t know about in the USA, but trust in the police has declined markedly in the last few decades in the UK.

          • Truthwhip

            Here too. Our police have been militarized and are totally out of control.

          • Bianca Bradley

            I think there are assumptions being made about the police. Seriously, making me be devils advocate when I’m more for less laws and less police authority. Gah.

            Look, they were asked to leave and they did. However they DID enter another property and it can be construed as disorderly conduct. Probably someone at the church got annoyed and after talking to the police about why they weren’t arrested before, the police decided to do so afterwords. Because statue of limitations had not ended.

            A defense attorney can and probably will argue, they weren’t mirandized and B, the charge is iffy because it’s a church, talking with parishioners is not disorderly.

            smh and sighing. Lets not read into stuff to much shall we?

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            They entered a property that is supposedly open to all and, if this article is anything to go by, did not cause a scene.

            I dislike Christian apologism. Yes, not all Christians behave like this but, in the western world, it is Christians that are the ones behaving like this.

            If this kind of behaviour is a minority action, then the wider Christian community needs to deal with their shit – just like how Heathens are trying to get rid of the racist “Nazitru” element within our community.

          • Bianca Bradley

            According to them, and a blog. However,… you weren’t there. You do not know the church’s or whoever called the cops point of view.

            The Arkansas statue, I will link the link so you can read the full thingy, but this is probably what they are going by: The offense also includes unlawfully disturbing a lawful public assembly or meeting;http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/disorderly-conduct-arkansas.htm

            This isn’t Christian apologetics. This is however a call to stop speculating that they are somehow doing this because the mayor said so.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I don’t understand US small town politics, no. I’ve lived in small towns in the UK, and this kind of thing just doesn’t happen here.

            What you are doing is calling the Dahls’ integrity into doubt. You are implying that they may well be lying, or twisting the facts to suit their own agenda.

            I see no reason to presume such a thing. However, there are plenty of reasons to presume that there are individuals in the USA that discriminate on grounds of religion and that these people are, predominantly, from Christian denominations.

            So, I ask, is it more reasonable to presume that the Dahls (and people like them) are lying or that they actually are experiencing opposition to their applications on ideological grounds?

          • Bianca Bradley

            No I’m pointing out that there are three sides of the story. Dahls, chuch and mayor, and the truth. I at no point said they were lying.

            I was saying that speculating on the motives of the police without facts is not ok. I then gave you a link to the statute in Arkansas on what disorderly conduct is, and that what the Dahls did, fit it. It fits in with what the Dahls said happened, but it also fits in with why the cops arrested them.

            Sure the mayor may be motivated by religion to be a giant pain in the tuckus. That doesn’t mean it’s a larger conspiracy. Our current mayor is motivated by a grudge, that goes back 20 years to be a Giant dork. This is why larger business have lawyers to deal with these headaches, cause town councils and zoning boards are pains in the butts.

        • Malachite

          Actually, one of the Dahls *was* arrested.

    • Gabe

      The ACLU would be a good start, how about the Southern Poverty Law Center as well? They deal with alot of “tolerance” cases and this sure seems to fit the bill as being intolerant.

      • Franklin_Evans

        Unfortunately, some criticisms leveled at the ACLU as smears are true for SPLC. SPLC is not known for its dilligence in fact gathering. :(

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          SPLC also published a horrid slur on Pagans some years ago. I don’t know if they’ve ever retracted it.

          • Deborah Bender

            There is in fact a biker club called the Pagans. I’ve seen them on the road.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Lord and Lady, they’ve been around for most of my life. (BTW it was Bianca who spoke of bikers.)

      • Bianca Bradley

        I think they were saying that Pagans equal racists. Pagans are a racist Biker gang if I remember correctly and there are big issues with White Power and Odinism.

        and…..
        I replied to the wrong person, oh well, I do apologize.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          That’s the one. It was more complicated, with a little Sixties-bashing thrown in, but you’ve got the gist.

        • kenofken

          They’re not off-base in asserting that some Odinist groups are virulently racist, and cataloging them. We tend to soft shoe around that fact in the pagan community.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Agreed. But the article in question portrayed all Pagans that way.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Heathens are all over that. I’ve watched/been involved in some fun arguments about it the last few days.

    • Bianca Bradley

      Here are some ProBono lawyers in Arkansas

      http://www.arlegalservices.org/probono

      http://www.arkbar.com/pages/pro_bono_representation.aspx

      Or you could call the Bar personally to find out other orginizations other than Southern Law, Lady LIberty league or ACLU

      http://www.probono.net/oppsguide/search?state=AR

      http://probono.uslegal.com/arkansas/

      I personally have found the Bar clerks and the like to be very helpful for any queries I might have. I will post more links for Federal vs State stuff as soon as I find them.

    • Wolfsbane

      Because the ACLU is akin to tits on a bull. Neither useful nor ornamental.

    • http://quakerpagan.org Cat C-B

      The ACLU limits its representation to cases that can set a precedent that would protect civil liberties. They are not a free legal service for every invasion of civil liberties–that’s way over their budget.

      Essentially, this one would be turned down immediately–because the actions of the town are unconstitutional on the face of them. There’s no new legal issue to settle–it’s “just” a case of enforcing existing law.

      Sadly, that part turns out to be less easy than it should. :-(

  • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

    Sounds like more casualties of the religious war that people keep trying to pretend isn’t happening.

    • Bianca Bradley

      The crusades were a religions war. This is not a war. The mayor is counting on these Pagans not getting a lawyer and using the courts to spank his butt.

      • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

        Peoples lives are being destroyed and, in Africa, people are dying in alarming numbers.

        The “war on terror” wasn’t a war, in the classical sense, but it still got that title.

        This is something that is either happening more and more often, or is being publicised more and more often.

        Either case, the fact it happens at all is disgusting and shows just how Christianity still maintains its perverse presence in Western culture(s) at the cost of any who do not capitulate.

        • Bianca Bradley

          What does Africa have to do with this small town pettiness? This is one case. There are venues available, they just have to avail themselves of it.

          This does not make this a war. Yes it sucks for the Temple of the Seekers, but again this does not make this a war.

          • Hecate_Demetersdatter

            In Africa, Christian persecution of people who are perceived to be Witches results in death. In the U.S. Christian persecution of people who are Pagans results in denial of equal rights and continued harassment. Obviously, the two are related. This is more than “small town pettiness” — as anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of this kind of persecution fully understands. The desire NOT to understand it is a large part of the problem.

          • Bianca Bradley

            It isn’t just the Christians, you may want to take a look at more than just Christians. Look at the Zulu’s and what they view Witches as. Who are these Witches that are being put to death, are they Pagans or are they people being accused of African Witchcraft.

            SMH
            Nor does this answer what Africa’s issues have to do with what is happening in this small town in Arkansas. Africas issues and what is happening here is not related.

            I’ve lived in the North, South and midwest. The perceived persecution, outside of small instances, are not happening. I was out of the broom closet in Ms, La and I was out in New England, and Washington and I’m out in Ks.

          • Hecate_Demetersdatter

            Zulu is not a religion. The relationship between what is happening in Africa and what is happening in Arkansas is that Pagans are being persecuted in both places. If you can’t see that, it’s due to a deliberate desire to not see it.

          • Bianca Bradley

            No Zulu is a tribe. Nor what is happening in a continent very far from the United States, with a totally different culture has no bearing on Bebe. It has little to do with not wanting to see it, and more to do with not getting the persecution chip on my shoulder and shoving everything into one big stew of Christians are out to get us, even if the us in Africa are not us.

            Africa is a continent, with their own customs, depending on the geography, and their own issues. They have had issues with witches before the Christians or Muslims came in. So quit conflating what is going on in Bebe and what is going on, in the African Continent.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I do not see it as conflation. Yes, Africa is a big, complicated continent, but we’re not trying to make peace between Hutu and Tutsi or figure out what to do about Boko Haram. We are focusing on violence based on a claim that the targets are exercising magic outside Abrahamic bounds. That’s parallel enough to be defended against the charge of conflation.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Except it’s not just Christians that make that claim. The witchcraft in Africa, is usually not about magic outisde of Christianity but of another type. It’s usually about causing disease, or that perception. It’s about using sorcery to cause pain and death etc.

            Now the victims of such charges may be Christian themselves. Many have no family or are on the fringes of their community and thus easy targets. This isn’t about persecution but about fear and lack of knowledge on how to combat what that community sees as the problem. Mostly poverty and death.

            Saying those damn Christians doesn’t do anything. There are better solutions, without resorting to playing the victim game and western hubris.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I never said “those damn Christians.” Some of my kindest and gentlest relatives were Christian.I carefully did not say the targets were non-Abrahamic, but were accused of non-Abrahamic magic, to ends you indicate (disease, pain, death). I can agree with much of your comment and still not see it as a rebuttal of what I said.

          • TadhgMor

            You make it abundantly clear you do not know anything about “the witchcraft in Africa”. Please stop spreading ignorance.

            Further, you completely ignore how the prejudice of Christians (and Muslims further north) has changed views on traditional practices. Claiming “well others dislike them too” because they were taught that by Christians as a reason to remove attention from Christians is not logically viable.

            You spend a considerable amount of time here defending bad Christians.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            A lot of the fiscal aid for the “witch hunters” in Africa comes from the US (and, to a lesser extent, the UK).

          • Bianca Bradley

            Can you give me sources for this?

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Bianca, this has been ventilated on The Wild Hunt. You might want to confer with Jason about how to search for the information in back posts.

          • Bianca Bradley

            Ventilated? Grin. So a bunch of 1930′s mobsters came by with drive by papering?

            I take what the wild hunt reports with some salt hun, thus why I asked Leoht if he knew of sources.

          • Bianca Bradley

            So far, all I have seen has been that “lady” “apostle”. Makes me wish for personal concerns and a poppet.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren
          • kenofken

            I’m not as familiar with the witch hunting issue, but there is a very well documented and indisuputable linkage between American evangelicals and Uganda’s adoption of draconian anti-gay laws, drafts of which at one point included the death penalty. Several key preachers, including one who penned a book essentially blaming the Nazi Holocaust on homosexuality – lobbied the Ugandan government heavily to legislate against gays. They have done so in Nigeria, Russia and other places.

            They did not invent homophobia in these nations, but they are clearly responsible for much of the official impetus to outlaw it in recent years and to aggressively prosecute gays and lesbians. They are evil to the core, and they are informed by an ideology and theology which has widespread support in Christianity. If Baruch doesn’t want to own the phrase “those damn Christians”, I will in this instance. There are countless LGBT folks whose lives have been or will be destroyed as a direct result of their actions and religious beliefs.

          • TadhgMor

            No, but dozens of such examples mark, at the very least, a simmering conflict.

      • kenofken

        War is war by whatever means. The law of the state, when deliberately and selectively used to marginalize a group, is a weapon, and one which is every bit as powerful as the shooting kind. Look in any direction you wish in history – the plight of Catholic Irish under English overlords, Jim Crow South and the civil rights struggles, Nazi Germany, gay rights, indigenous struggles.

        In every single case, you find that laws always preceded actual genocides, and they did 99% of the heavy lifting of maintaining oppression on a day to day basis. There were always a separate set of laws targeting the oppressed group. When there weren’t there were customs of enforcement to rig the system hopelessly against them.

        This is particularly true of religious wars or oppression. During the bloody back and forth of the Reformation, laws were passed to make sure the losing group at the time could’t hold certain professions, or build their churches etc. You see it in the Middle East with Christians. You see it in Russia with every religion the Orthodox church doesn’t like. You see it with Muslims in the U.S. and with pagans. Zoning laws are especially ripe for abuse because they allow officials enormous discretion. You can have transparently obvious intentions for targeted and intentional discrimination, and yet cloak the whole thing in neutral concerns of parking, traffic and land use etc. Look up the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act sometime. This is a real and recognized problem, and one that spans far beyond the pagan community.

        “War” may be a debatable term, but in the context of the concept of a culture war, it fits. It is certainly an egregious and deliberate denial of civil rights and equal protection. Calculated legal actions to disenfranchise a group are also part and parcel of genocide. The only thing (and no small thing), that separates true war and genocide from this action is that the aggrieved still have meaningful recourse in the courts.

        • Bianca Bradley

          Different countries different laws different if no recourse. http://www.nairaland.com/1510814/witch-hunting-adeboyes-evangelical-tour

          This seems to be an issue in Ghana, Nigeria, and other countries. I know I found one pentecostal Ghana preacher who was saying that thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, was not actually what the Bible was saying, and he was preaching it to end the witch hunts, but can’t find the link atm.

          My point is, these are sovereign countries.

  • Starr A.

    We were able to open a multifaith store in Fort Smith AR without any problems… You have to make sure the building you want is zoned correctly first.

    -Evolutions Enchanted Gifts & More

    • Deborah Bender

      True dat.

      Circle had zoning issues decades ago, and it appeared to me (as a distant observer) that they were at least partly to blame by having bought land zoned for agricultural uses and then wanting to convert it to non-agricultural purposes.

      However, doing the research isn’t always enough, if the powers that be change the rules retroactively.

      • Roi de Guerre

        That’s a good point. Overlaying the Beebe zoning map with google maps shows that both parties seem to be making claims not supported by the actual zoning. (of course, who knows if the zoning map is still accurate, it seems dated to me.).

        If there are businesses running on either side of the Temple, then only 1 of them is legally zoned. (there’s a small Neighborhood Commercial zoned plot right next door).

        I don’t mean to downplay the clear persecution that seems to be happening, but requesting zoning changes would seem to be the first place to go. It would at least get the matter on record and perhaps create an actionable result.

  • Rose Searcy

    this is clearly a violation of your religious rights that are protected under federal law. Threaten the jerk with a federal lawsuit and see where that gets you. If you threaten to go federal I bet he will back down. The police that are watching you are harassing you and your guest based on religious beliefs which you can sue the police department over. Do not let this go push their hand and go to a federal level with their stupid asses I would most certainly would

  • Penny

    I wish they would move to Fayetteville. They would be welcome and we really need another store to serve the Pagan community here.

  • Raksha38

    Infuriating, but not surprising.

  • TadhgMor

    While I agree all of this is absolute nonsense and most likely illegal it does beg a question…why do so many pagan groups continue to set up in small towns that seem to be hostile? I don’t understand it. I’d never encourage anyone to do so in my county, because I know this stuff would happen. I understand the notion of “fighting the good fight”, but if that’s the case don’t we need to pick places where we can use the law to help us? It doesn’t sound like anyone is interested in enforcing the law there.

    I’m entirely sympathetic to their plight and hope it gets resolved, but sometimes I wonder if the broader pagan community is sinking money we really need into a blackhole trying to fight Christian bigotry in towns where the government and legal system just don’t care. Money that would be better off going to trying to develop our own spaces maybe. It seems like we’re playing into the hopes of people like that mayor; we’re playing the game on their terms and they usually win.

    • Wolfsbane

      That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?, This is America and you should be able to live wherever you want. But what possible reason would you have for wanting to go and live in Redneckistan?

      • kenofken

        I don’t, but some pagans grew up in Redneckistan and love the territory apart from the discrimination. You can also get property decimal places cheaper than in major metro areas. There’s a balance to this. I don’t think we ought to spend all of our resources trying to colonize hostile far flung areas. At the same time, confining yourself to “safe” enclaves is a dangerous strategy of the long run. It’s called ghettoization and it’s never served any minority group well in the long run.

        • TadhgMor

          I agree with this completely. I don’t even think what they are doing is wrong in any sense, I just sort of question how often I read stories like this and wonder if our focus might be better directed towards some alternatives as well.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I appreciate you as a voice of moderation and pondering reasonable alternatives.

          • TadhgMor

            Odd for me eh? I suppose even the radicals got to hit the middle ground sometimes.

    • Joseph

      Perhaps it’s because they live in those communities already, and don’t feel they should move just to be able to practice their religion?

      • TadhgMor

        Not in this particular case, no. They chose to move their business to this town. No doubt for personal reasons I can’t begin to speak to, but there was still the choice to move there.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      The alternative is to encourage people to move to enclaves of their own denomination.

      Sure, that can have problems of its own, but I think the Amish have shown that it can work.

      • TadhgMor

        We’d need to build some first.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          I’m (re)training to be a carpenter. It’s on my “to do” list.

  • Gabe

    Has anyone went to the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church website and browsed around? I found it tad disturbing to find this statement . Now before a bunch of “omg not every Christian is like that!” people jump me, I already know that. This particular church seems to be VERY fundamentalist however and spells trouble. One other thing that knocked me over was, look at the size of that damn church!! If it’s right across the street then how DARE the city say Seekers Temple can’t build or gather where they are. This is government/religious corruption.
    So when are we all going to Beebe?!?!

    • Bianca Bradley

      It’s not disturbing. YOu would have to understand the politics of these churches and I don’t mean democrats and republicans. Catholics and Episcopalians have Bishops and in the Catholics case a Pope to answer to. A pentecostal is different. Baptists have no central authority and if the preacher ticks off his congregation can be voted out.

      That phrase is saying that Pentecostals have no central authority and what the Pastor says goes.

      Also Pentecostals ARE fundamentalist. Why is this surprising? It’s like being surprised that Southern Baptists are conservative and won’t ordain women.

      • Gabe

        I was raised in multiple churches coming up because my folks couldn’t make up their minds what they believed so I do understand church politics. Understanding church politics doesn’t make that staement any less disturbing. I found it relevant in understanding the situation in Beebe because if the person had gone to the church leadership and been ignored then it would also explain the congregation apparently not having an opinion of their own. Also I have found fundamentalism is a state of mind not religion. there are Pentecostals that are tolerant same as there are fundamentalist methodists. It depends alot on church leadership which in this case seems to be a bit on the fringe. Which I never said was surprising but is certainly relevant is further dealing with them.

        • Bianca Bradley

          It’s a statement of church hierarchy, nothing more nothing less. Pentecostal churches are all independent.

          Congregation ALWAYS has an opinion, even in a high Hierarchal setting, they can vote with their feet.

          • http://quakerpagan.org Cat C-B

            As long as they don’t cross the street to the Seekers’ Temple, that is…

  • http://www.bryonmorrigan.com/ BryonvonRinger(BryonMorrigan)

    Our firm (in Florida) just won a disorderly conduct case here, and if the laws are similar in Arkansas, there might be a possibility of getting a lot of money in a Civil Rights suit. (We’re filing one in regards to the case we just won…)

    WE can’t do anything, because we are in Florida, but there are probably lawyers out there willing to help, pro bono. Look to the nearest “big” city, and find a firm that deals in both criminal defense and civil rights issues – They are your best bet. If all they did was complain to the church, then (under FL law, anyways), if the cops knew that was all you did, the arrest was probably illegal. If the City is “in” on it, all the better…

  • Erin

    My suggestion is to start writing the times and dates of all the harassment from now on, and post it online along with the names of the officers who arrested you and pictures if you can get them, along with the names and pictures of the people harassing you, including the church that they come from. Alert the local media, if they don’t bite, go to other sources. Let every pagan group you can find know what’s happening, there is strength in numbers. We should rally if they try anymore of this, getting as many pagans to your town as possible, should have signs and slogans if we go, it’s time to let people know that the pagans are back, we are many, and we’re here to stay.

    • Gabe

      The mayor and church should also immediatly have their inbox, answering machine and mailbox flooded with respectful yet sharply pointed critisim of the intolerance that is being shown. This should come from all over the country! We can’t afford to be silent on this and only complain to each other.