Town officials in Beebe, Arkansas apparently believe that the Constitution doesn’t apply to any other religion except Christianity.
Bertram Dahl wanted to operate a place of worship out of his own home. Dahl informed town officials, including Mayor Mike Robertson, of his plans to open a church so that people would have a place to practice their religious beliefs freely as the Constitution guarantees. But Robertson and other town officials ripped up the First Amendment immediately upon learning that Dahl isn’t a Christian. He is, in fact, a pagan and intends to operate a pagan temple.
Dahl is a High Priest of Seekers Temple, a self-proclaimed pagan religious group. He attempted to set up a temple behind his home in his neighborhood. All he wanted to do is practice his religion in peace with other pagans in the community. After learning this information, Mayor Robertson and other Beebe officials blatantly violated Dahl’s constitutional rights by ordering him to close the temple and stop practicing his religious beliefs.
Bertram told KARK:
“When they knew we were going to open a church, it wasn’t an issue. We explained to [the mayor] the house had a building that we could open the church in, and he had no problem. We were basically given a cease and desist you know — shut down. We hadn’t even unpacked. We aren’t even open — how are we getting this?”
Dahl hadn’t even applied for the permits to open the Seekers Temple and spiritual shop when town officials banned his efforts. They sent the city code officer to deliver the bad news. As an excuse, Beebe city attorney Barrett Rogers told KARK that Dahl’s plan was rejected because it violated zoning laws because his private property isn’t commercial property. But Dahl isn’t stupid. He prepared for bigoted excuses like that and did his own homework. His property is actually zoned R-2, which means he CAN open a temple. KARK even pointed out that other people are operating businesses from their homes. It’s sad that Dahl knows more about the city code than officials who supposedly run the town. But town officials don’t care. Mayor Robertson told KARK point blank that it doesn’t matter what permits he applies for, they’ll all be rejected because Dahl is not a Christian. Even Dahl’s alderman won’t help him, because “that man’s God isn’t my God.”
Here’s the video.
This isn’t the first time town officials violated a person’s religious beliefs in the name of Christianity. Last month, a Virginia court official told an atheist couple he wouldn’t perform their ceremony because they have no right to get married since they don’t believe in God. That incident caused an uproar. This latest violation of religious liberty in Arkansas should also cause outrage.
According to the Arkansas state constitution,
“No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship, above any other.”
By openly preventing Dahl from establishing a pagan temple on his own property, not only is the city government of Beebe is clearly in violation of the US Constitution, but the Arkansas state constitution as well. Mayor Robertson and other town officials have put the town they were elected to run in a terrible position. The city would clearly lose in court if Dahl chose to file a lawsuit. He would be victorious and would be able to finally open the temple he has dreamed of while the taxpayers of Beebe would be forced to pay the legal bill all because their own elected officials refused to follow the constitution which protects everyone’s right to worship as they so choose.