Political Rants by Judy @ 5:09 PM
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My friend K lives in a small town not too far from Portland. She and her family live in a cute little house on a quiet street. Quiet, that is, until the church moved in across the street.

I use “church” in a loose sense. The man who moved in “saw the light” after a life of sinning. He now fancies himself something of a preacher and is trying to form a new congregation. In his garage. Which no longer sports the typical garage door, but now has a regular door, and a sign declaring its status as a congregation meeting place. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course.

But where does your right to form a church end and my right not to join it start?

The members of this congregation are not afraid to cram their beliefs down the neighborhood’s collective throat share their beliefs with their neighbors. On Sundays and Wednesdays when the meeting is in session, the sermon carries throughout the neighborhood thanks to the magic of amplification. At 4:00 am each weekday morning, taped hymns drone through the air along with the rasp of a flaky car starter. Last summer, when K and her family tried to enjoy their yard, the congregation was always ready to stand across the street singing hymns as loudly as possible.

The neighbors are beginning to feel a bit harrassed.

There is speculation among the neighbors that the real “reason” for forming a congregation has less to do with suddenly finding Jesus and more to do with suddenly discovering the tax-exempt status of religious bodies.

An elderly neighbor who had lost her husband of 50 years only two weeks before, lost control of her car and damaged some of the “church’s” property. Being an honest citizen, she confessed to the “reverend” what had happened.

Under the circumstances, one might expect a certain amount of understanding and compassion from a minister. After all the damage was relatively minor. The driver was insured and the church, one would expect, is also insured. Instead, the confession was answered with a threat to sue the driver for malicious damage. Not the most “Christian” of reactions.

But how do you get a church moved out once it’s moved in? It’s not a business, per se, so zoning laws may not apply.

For now, K is sleeping with earplugs to avoid the 4:00 am choir and considering an outdoor stereo system for use during the summer.



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