Monday, February 10, 2014

Home Worship Under Attack in Dallas

There's a story out of Dallas that should be of interest to every Pagan and Heathen out there. A Dallas man, Rabbi Yaakov Rich, has been holding Jewish worship services in his home twice a day. His neighbor, David Schneider, who lives across the street and who happens to have just been elected as president of their homeowner's association, is suing the rabbi for $50,000, claiming that the home-synagogue is hurting his property values.

The implications for Pagans and Heathens are obvious. If the courts uphold that the RLUIPA doesn't protect the use of one's private home for religious purposes here, then it's pretty obvious that it wouldn't protect such use for a Wiccan or Asatru worship service, either.

Now, granted, holding services twice a day seems a bit much, and one can only hope that the congregation is doing everything it can to get a permanent and dedicated temple space as soon as it can. But depending on the wording of the eventual court decision, this could have dramatic impacts on anyone holding a blot in their back yard. Think of the mischief a decision like that could instigate, especially with a neighbor who has a grudge against "those weird people across the street who practice that strange so-called religion".

We see similar push-back against people holding Bible Studies in their homes. Again, in that case, the defendant tried to push the issue and there were ancillary questions about his use of a building on his property as a church when building inspectors were told it was a shed. But these cases do form a pattern, and could, in the hands of the wrong judge, bring about a disastrous precedent that would harm Heathens and Pagans even more than it would Christians and Jews, given the relative state of our religious infrastructure (buildings, land, schools, etc.) compared to that of the Peoples of the Book.

Keep an eye on these. They're important.

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