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Universalis

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Intercessors of the Lamb, take three

One problem that the Intecessors had faced was opposition by the locals.
Check Jan 2009 article.

Suttle said the Intercessors are thumbing their noses at several of the 18 conditions the Omaha City Council imposed on the property's use when it approved expansion in the rolling, scenic hills north of Omaha. "I really, really thought we were finally going to get peace in the hills and get everybody together," Suttle said Friday.

"It hasn't happened."
Longtime neighbors in the area of 40th Street and North Post Road say it hasn't happened because the Intercessors and their founder, Mother Nadine Brown, refuse to follow the rules or meet with neighborhood leaders -- one of the key conditions the City Council imposed.

Meanwhile, the Intercessors say the city is picking on them by requiring them to "jump through hoops" not imposed on other property owners. Gerard Forget, a Ponca Hills resident and the attorney for the Intercessors, says in court documents the city is discriminating against this "seemingly controversial religious assembly" because of its beliefs.

The Intercessors objected to the quarterly meetings with neighbors -- and objected to the City Council's designation of a planning official to handle complaints from neighbors.

and then, we have neighbors threatened by the "strange looking" folks who live there.

Neighbors long have been perplexed by the teal-colored-robe-wearing brothers and sisters of the group. The Intercessors, who live as hermits but in clusters, smile but rarely speak as they stroll the neighborhood. They live in at least 15 homes in the neighborhood -- yet no neighbors know where they've come from or their full names. Neighbors have fought some of the group's developments, including the tax-exempt status of several houses.

Well, yes. Those scary looking folks.

I'm not saying that cults can't be threatening to neighbors. Years ago, I had relatives living near MOVE in Philadelphia, and they were threatened with violence by the group while merely walking down the street.

And I know of neighborhoods who rejected assisted living homes for the retarded or mentally ill, out of fear that their kids might see these strange people; and there is a lot of fear about halfway houses for criminals who seek rehabilitation.

But there are a lot of local groups opposing minority religious houses of worship. The most famous is the "Ground Zero mosque", but cases against church expansion are a dime a dozen.

LINK LINK LINK LINK and probably lots more if you check local papers.


That is why the US Congress passed a law allowing places of worship to be built despite local zoning laws...

The real question from a legal standpoint is if there are questions of abuse or criminal behavior by the hermits. Just not being sociable isn't enough. That is not against the law.

And the other complaints, about building permits, about dust and traffic, are those often used to prevent a lot of churches and non profit schools from being established in neighborhoods.

It's almost as if churches now will be stuck away from where people live, in a "red line" district.

And the "tax exempt" argument is merely a part of anti religious rhetoric.

It ignores that originally taxes were only for the rich, not everyone.

It ignores that the government recognizes the idea that "the power to tax is the power to destroy"

and that in the US, churches are seen as a community good, since most church members tend to be law abiding, not drug addicts etc.

Yet time after time we read the same thing: neighbors are suing, or using local zoning laws to stop churches from building or expanding or readjusting their use of buildings.

Yet it makes one wonder: Where do these folks get money to sue? This suit has cost "three neighbors" $200 thousand in legal fees.
presumably this means the church has similar fees, depleting their savings that could be used better elsewhere.

Then there is the argument using "historic districts" as an excuse to stop churches from building.

Even that "mystic monk coffee" monastery is getting sued by local ranchers who object that...hell, I don't know. Maybe their singing will upset the steers.

The proposal triggered a clash between ranchers who live miles apart, trying to protect their quiet, rural open spaces, and the hermit monks who live a secluded, Spartan life of prayer and meditation and are looking for more room to meet their expanding order and maintain their privacy.

Most Americans would agree with this:

Ranch owner Dave Grabbert, whose family has held the property since 1938, has agreed to sell to the religious order, and he describes the two monks he has met as personable, intelligent and "just decent guys."

"I don't care if they're Hindus, Buddhists or what they are, but being decent people, that's really a plus in this day and age," Grabbert said. "Not everyone is."


Yet his common sense isn't that of all who live there:

Some of his neighbors object to the sale, citing concerns about traffic, wildlife, water – and questioning whether the massive stone structure fits with the rural landscape.

"The plans look like someone took an old cathedral and just dropped it onto our beautiful landscape," Mary Elliott, who lives about 15 miles from the site, wrote to the Planning and Zoning Commission. She noted the religious order wouldn't be paying property taxes.

"As their contribution to this community will be prayer rather than property taxes the town will take a large loss on the currently paid property taxes," Elliott wrote.."

ah yes, she lives 15 miles away but objects to....what? Can she even see the place?


Of course, this isn't just a Catholic thing: San Diego neighbors don't like the Buddhists for the same reason:

BONSALL – About 200 residents have signed petitions against a Buddhist monastery and meditation center proposed for a hillside above the San Luis Rey Downs Country Club.

Opponents say the Asian-style temple would be architecturally inappropriate for the rural atmosphere embraced by Bonsall residents and would attract more traffic and put a strain on infrastructure.

"Neighbors" also opposed a Jain Temple in Ohio,

This "Hindu" temple had to keep finding sites that they could use before they found one that was approved. (it is not clear if this is the same group as the above...Hindus and Jains are not the same).

if you read the article, you will find stuff like "sewage" and water (appropriate) but also things like telling them how many trees they have to plant and insisting that the building be harmonious. Again, we hear dislike of lighting, traffic, and noise being voiced, and we hear about "property values" going down (although I suspect the presence of the Temple would encourage their members to buy local houses).

And of course, the Mormons (LDS) are used to this type of problem. I lived out west, and know that there is an anti Mormon bias among many "gentiles", mainly because the LDS tend to shop in LDS owned stores and help each other's businesses. And if you push them, they bring up the "Mountain Meadow Massacre" to imply that you must fear your local LDS neighbors, never mind that that was a personal feud by a few hot heads.

Catholics have the Inquistion and Gallileo, the LDS have the MMM, as if these historical aberations were the norm. Sigh.

In other words, there are a lot of anti religious folks out there who will fear those of another religion and use lame excuses, and much of this opposition is against Christian churches of the stricter sort, not just against Mosques.

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so what does this have to do with the IOTL?

It's just that, as I said in part one, that these "hermits" seemed to pick comfortable surroundings and attract a lot of money, something that disturbed me, since as an ex missionary I wonder about "religious" folks who over do these things. Was there irregularity in the funding? Was the order shut down because the Bishop was feuding over the control of the funding/buildings with the lay board (as opposed to the order)?

The latest article suggests it was that Mother Nadine seemed to have gone bonkers (e.g.overdoing it) in the last few years, increasing the cult like atmosphere in the group.

The three said the climate in the faith community had deteriorated in recent years and had grown increasingly tense over the past two weeks.

The founder of the organization, Mother Nadine Brown, stepped down as its general director at Lucas' request. Archdiocesan officials said that happened because an official church inquiry found numerous changes that needed to be made.

Basically, two factions formed after that, Nolte said. The vast majority supported the archbishop's call for the group to make reforms so it could move ahead toward further church recognition, he said.

Check her for early Alzheimer's please before deciding she is a heretic. (I will discuss some of the problems in later posts, since I found a discussion group about them on the internet)..

But if the bishop shut down the IOTL because of their feud with the neighbors, then I wonder. Such opposition seems to be widespread.

And maybe that is why the lay board sees the bishop's interference as a grab for the order's holdings, as a way to increase the income/liquidity of the diocese.

I would love to know the real dirt behind all of this, but alas I suspect we won't really know.

Labels:

3 Comments:

  • At the statement of the former hermits, you'll see the reason why they were suppressed. It's not because there's false teaching, nor simple because of the neighbors. It's because of the diobedience of the civil lay board directors and of the foundress too. Reading the "faith climate", I bet the 48 former hermits who are now at Schuyler are really traumatized.

    You made an interesting note: could it be Nadine's aging, or Alzheimer's disease?

    By Blogger Charles, at 4:29 PM  

  • There are a lot of valid reasons that this group needed to be shut down. I found manipulation and coercion when I first looked into the group 12 years ago. I spoke with officials under the previous Bishop and was basically told to “Mind my own business.” Since then, the group has housed a kidnapper, removed children from their parents and asked participants to “Confess” in their journals that are then shared with the organization. Anyone that questions the group or its methods are “under the influence of Satan.” Of course, the only way to save yourself is to purchase their books and tapes, attend their conferences, tithe to the organization, or, ultimately, to sell all you have and donate it to IOTL.
    It’s a little known fact that the Catholic Church requires any group that accepts a vow of poverty to have the financial resources necessary to support the members. They can’t accept the money, invest it, and hope they’ll have the finances to support them later. That’s one of the reasons why a lay organization, which IOTL still was when it was suppressed, is unable to fully accept vows.

    By Anonymous Marie Brown, at 6:56 AM  

  • Both of the above statements are untrue. I was ministered to personally by the Intercessors and there was nothing cult like about them at all. Mother Nadine was not disobedient. She did everything the Bishop asked her to. The Lord is allowing this for the purification of the Church. She is suffering for us and she will be declared a saint someday.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:23 AM  

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