ZONED OUT OF WORSHIP
You won�t see any suits, ties, ushers or stiff pews at this church. Those attending will be casually dressed wearing blue jeans and will be totally relaxed as they listen to good music and good preaching at �Cowboy Church.�
Cowboy Church is not new. In the west they have enjoyed this form of worship for years but it is just now catching on east of the Mississippi River and people are lovin� it.
Sometimes the service is held in an auction barn or an arena. The place doesn�t matter because the message is pure and straight to the point. Recently we had the opportunity to attend a Cowboy Church gathering at a ranch near Benton, MO. Paul and Susie Luchsinger were there. Susie, who is Reba McEntire�s sister, is a fantastic gospel singer and she was there to share her music and faith at a concert. Paul, a former rodeo steer wrestler, was there to share his testimony and show the younger set the art of steer wrestling and everyone had the chance to give it a try�..with real steers.
Liberals may think the gambling boat, various forms of social drinking and a variety of partying is fun. But I will guarantee they could not have as much fun as we did at Cowboy Church and we went away feeling great.
In Ann Coulter�s new book, �Godless� the Church of Liberalism,� she says, �If a Martian landed in America and set out to determine the nation's official state religion, he would have to conclude it is liberalism, while Christianity and Judaism are prohibited by law."
Cowboy Church worshipers who have been meeting in a barn in Bedford County Virginia will agree with Coulter that Christianity is prohibited by law.
�Garland Simmons recently received a Notice of Violation from Bedford County stating that his barn cannot be used for religious services. Simmons� 900-acre piece of property apparently isn�t zoned for such meetings,� according to an article in WorldNetDaily.
Apparently his barn can be used for �barn dances� but not for religious services according to Liberty Counsel, who on behalf of the church, sent a demand letter to county officials stating the violation of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the First Amendment.
The church�s motto is �Where everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord.� Did some liberal decide that Jesus Christ is not Lord and is forcing his belief on everyone while at the same time stomping on the belief of Christians by using zoning?
One way to �get the Christians� would be to push zoning restrictions against religious services on private property. Have we �zoned� ourselves into violating the rights of property owners to the extent we have lost the �use� of our property even for religious gatherings?
For two years I worked as an outreach worker following a major disaster. Red Cross came at the beginning but Salvation Army was there for the duration. Along with Salvation Army were church groups of all denominations from across the nation who came in for two full years with workers for clean up. Although most were certainly not in the high income level, these Christians came at their own expense and left generous donations.
Never once did I see liberal minded groups such as the ACLU, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, NOW or others willing to work at clean up or give a financial donation. They may have as individuals or worked as an organization in other disasters, but if they did, I am not aware of it.
The liberal and selfish are now opposing gatherings in homes for Bible Study. A multitude of cases have been reported of religious services being halted due to zoning. This seems strange considering there are certain religions permitted to pray wherever and whenever they choose and the government would certainly not infringe on their religious rights in the same way they do Christians and Jews.
Apparently liberals are not concerned about the positive role churches and Bible Studies play in a community.
In New Jersey: This work, which has seen several "gang bangers," as the young hoodlums are known, walk away from their associations, is facing a new challenge. City zoning officials are planning on July 8 to inspect the basement where meetings are held, following complaints from neighbors about the noise a gaggle of young adults make on the street before the Bible study, and afterward, when a pickup game of basketball forms on a nearby court.
From Denver: (Citizen magazine) The situation turned from bizarre to serious when Diane received a notice in the mail containing an official-looking "cease and desist" order from the city of Denver for violating zoning codes in an R-1 residential area. The notice stated the Reiters were guilty of "excessive prayer meetings" and were in violation of Denver statute section 59-80(6)(a)1-a, which the zoning administrator interpreted to mean that prayer meetings were allowed only once a month.
In Hacienda Heights, California, a weekly home Bible study was shut down despite the availability of off-site parking and soundproofing in the room where the study took place.
In Arapahoe County, Colorado, zoning officials imposed limits on the size of congregations permitted to operate in various churches.
In Denver, Colorado, a city barred a couple from holding more than one prayer meeting in their home each month.
In Douglas County, Colorado, and Seminole, Florida, administrative officials proposed limiting the operational hours of a church.
In St. Petersburg, Florida, city officials tried to shut down a church because of its many outreach activities to the community by redefining the church as a "social service agency," a type of establishment that was not permitted in the zoning district where the church was located.
In Orlando, Florida, the city informed a resident that the fellowship, prayer, and Bible studies held in his home amounted to the illegal conduct of a home business.
In Evanston, Illinois, the zoning code permits a Christian fellowship building to be used for "cultural" events such as concerts and theatrical performances, but prohibits religious gatherings in the building.
Twenty-two of twenty-nine zoning codes in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, exclude churches, unless they obtain a special use permit.
The Grand Haven, Michigan, City and Zoning Board denied a building permit for a church's storefront ministry on the grounds that the storefront was located in a city business district.
City officials in Apex, North Carolina, want to ban any new churches that might hinder their economic revitalization plans.
The city of Jacksonville, Oregon, denied a church a permit to build a sanctuary and an education building on a ten-acre site.
The city of Portland, Oregon, ordered a church to cease providing Bible study, prayer, and meals for the homeless twice a week.
In Washington, Pennsylvania, a resident was told to remove Bible messages posted on his own fence overlooking the interstate highway.
The city of Forest Hills, Tennessee, created a new zoning development plan that set up an "educational and religious zone," called an "ER" for existing schools and churches, but did not provide any "ER" zone for new schools and churches.
In Groves City, Texas, a pastor was denied a permit to open (1) a boarding house for the homeless and drug-addicted in the city's business district, (2) a church with counseling and boarding facilities, and (3) a regular church sanctuary.
A Richmond, Virginia, ordinance requires places of worship wishing to feed more than thirty hungry and homeless people to apply for a conditional use permit at a cost of $1,000, plus $100 dollars per acre of affected property. The ordinance also limits seven days between October 1 and April 1 as the only times when places of worship may feed the hungry and homeless.
In Onalaska, Wisconsin, complaints were filed against a pastor and his wife for hosting a weekly home Bible study in their home.
This is only a small sampling of the threats Christian worship is facing.
Houston, Texas, is the 4th largest city in the U.S. and repeatedly their residents have voted against zoning. Smart Growth has now found Houston and whether the people like it or not, they will be zoned. The draft of their new zoning ordinance has recently been released. Will this end religious freedom in Houston as it now exists? Apparently it has in many other cities and counties throughout the nation.
zoning really the answer to our building problems or is it a way to
put more regulations and controls upon private property rights?
� 2006 Joyce Morrison
- All Rights Reserved
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Joyce Morrison attempts to educate the public regarding the dangers coming to their local communities through Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 programs which are designed to gradually take control of all private property through undue regulations.
Morrison writes for Eco-logic Powerhouse, NewsWithViews.com, Range Magazine, SOWER magazine as well as numerous other publications. She is a weekly participant on the teleconference of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank and is a pro-life, pro-family activist.
She is a chapter leader for Concerned Women for America as well as Secretary to the Board of Directors of Rural Restoration/ADOPT Mission, a national farm ministry located in Sikeston, MO. FarmersRuralRestoration.com. Her most enjoyable time is spent teaching a senior adult Sunday School class which is a focus on hope and encouragement.
Have we �zoned� ourselves into violating the rights of property owners to the extent we have lost the �use� of our property even for religious gatherings?