Bigotry and ignorance strike again

Sandra and I lived in Washington DC — in the District itself — for nearly six years (1999-2005). During most of that time, a major issue was where the Church would build a stake center if and when one was built in the District itself. (The Washington DC Stake center is actually located in Kensington, MD, next door to the Washington DC Temple.) The sad part was that the Church had owned a rather large chapel right in DC many years earlier, but had sold it to another church.

Well, the Church has finally found property and wants to build on it — but they are facing opposition from both home owners and other churches:

It’s not just the traffic and parking congestion that they predict the Mormons will bring to 16th Street Heights, their lush residential neighborhood north of Mount Pleasant. And never mind that the area already has a dozen or so congregations, not to mention a host of other institutions such as schools and day-care centers.

But a tower that’s the equivalent of 10 stories high?

“What are they trying to prove?” said Stuart Peacock, a lawyer who resides around the corner, his narrowing eyes punctuating his disgust. “It’s too much.”

Gloria Eblan, a software engineer who lives across from the property, at 16th and Emerson streets NW, envisions the kind of raucousness associated with a throbbing nightclub, not a church. She insists that a jackhammer-thumping construction project, followed by a weekly parade of chattering congregants will disturb her ever-precious peace.

“I don’t want to come off as the anti-Christ, because I’m not. I just have my apprehensions,” said Eblan, a crucifix around her neck. “The noise is going to drive me crazy. We’re just trying to live our lives.”

Dozens of homeowners have expressed opposition to the new church with lawn signs that read, “Too Big, Too Much, Too Many.” And the Mormons are finding little support from the neighborhood’s clergy, including one pastor who said his objection is rooted not in architecture, but theology.

“They don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah; they accept him as the prophet,” said Edward Wilson, pastor at Church of Christ, a block from the Mormon site. “It’s wrong, I disagree with it, and I wouldn’t want them in the neighborhood.”

Mormon leaders have been surprised by the opposition, in part because so many churches are located there. But they said they’re confident that their reception will improve once they build their two-story brick church, which will host two Sunday services and seat 240. The church will offer underground and aboveground parking, which the Mormons promise will minimize the congregation’s affect on the neighborhood.

I’ve driven up and down 16th Avenue many times. As the article notes, there are many, many churches along that road. The building of an LDS stake center there is not going to change or spoil the look of the neighborhood along that road. This appears mostly to be religious NIMBY mixed with ignorance and some genuine religious bigotry.  ..bruce..

Leave a Reply