In Independence, Virginia, a woman named Laura George wanted to build a spiritual center/retreat. In this city just north of the North Carolina border, she wanted to build a center where those of differing religious beliefs and traditions could come together and converse.
Now, if anything should be protected and respected by our Constitution, it should be this, right?
After all, in the county that Independence, VA is in, there are over 150 churches. Or, one for every 100 people. So, while there are multiple religious institutions for those who are Christians, and especially Christian conservatives. But, for those rare individuals in that region who don't meet that religious definition, there is no tolerance.
See, the supposed tolerant Christian fundamentalists in that town opposed the building of this spiritual center based on religious opposition. The county attorney stated that the reason the planning commission voted against the center, was zoning issues.
Traffic, parking, etc. are legitimate concerns, but I find it hard to believe a county with 150 churches can't make room for one spiritual center. After all, non-believers tolerate traffic on Sundays caused by church parking.
Why? Because Christians, even if they might believe that gays deserve to burn in torment in some afterlife, have the right to the free exercise of religion. In this town, if you don't share the orthodox views of the Christian-right majority, you are out of luck.
Rhonda James opposed the building of the center because she stated that the center would question the word of her god and the bible. Frankly, I don't know if this center would, and I don't care. It is not a concern of our government what a religious building will say about the dogma of any religion, be it Christianity, Islam or any other.
Others, including pastors who should know something about the free exercise of religion, also spoke out against this proposed center. Now, if this center is anti-Christian or non-Christian or opposed to Christianity in some form, that makes no difference. I shouldn't be that shocked, Christian conservatives oppose the right of Muslims to build mosques, with the excuse they might be potential terrorists.
Is someone who will build a spiritual center, a "Peace Pentagon" as she calls it, a potential terrorist? Of course not.
As a humanist, what would be the reaction of my building some kind of humanist center in that county? Would my right to do so be supported? Of course not. The fact is, there are many people on the religious right of America who believe that freedom of religion only means them, and them only.
We aren't a Christian theocracy and those who should be most offended that some wish to impose such a thing on us, are those who are Christian moderates, because the fundamentalists make all Christians look bad.