In 2010, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging that Walnut had treated the Zen center’s application differently from other building proposals, ordering repeated traffic studies even after the first showed the center would have little impact. According to the suit, the city had not denied a conditional use permit for a house of worship since at least 1980. [LA Times]
Here we fucking go again. The application for a new Ch’an Center was denied but, at the same time, the commission granted a permit for a Catholic church larger than the proposed monastery. In Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), the United States Supreme Court held that courts could not enforce racial covenants on real estate. Which is exactly what is occuring in this instance.
[One distinction you may wish to make re: your excellent article. Shelley v. Kramer concerned a restrictive covenant which was placed on the land records barring black people from owning a certain house via the recording of a deed or other document. The Supreme Court ruled that such covenants were void under the Equal Protection Clause. In other words, some racist jerk decided that his house should never be owned by an “other” so let’s restrict its use.
The decisions you cite and write about are much more insidious because they concern race and affiliation neutral ordinances (seeking of zoning variances, etc) being applied in a discriminatory fashion by local governments. via MC commenting from Google Plus ~ Thanks MC for your clarification and I bow to your legal prowess. I think that the spirit of that ruling would make it obvious that any sort of racial/religious discrimination or unfair application of local zoning laws would be equally unconstitutional.]
- The same type of incident occurred in Olathe, Kansas with a Laotian sangha refused a building permit
- Another in Utica, NY about a Vietnamese sangha that was refused the same rights afforded to other religious groups in the same town.
- Also action was taken in Garden Grove, California after the city denied the Vietnamese Buddhism Study Temple a zoning permit to operate in the city’s business district.
- A Cambodian Buddhist Study Center was denied and denied in appeal at the State Supreme Court level in a bid to build a temple on 10 acres of land in Newtown, Connecticut.
- A Thai Budhist temple was denied expansion in Spalding County, Georgia with the commisioners reaffirming their decision by stating that the “right to worship” has not been denied but evidentally their congregation is not allowed any amount of growth.
Before everyone jumps on my ass with appeals that the communities are not all that bad and have the best intentions at heart (just look at how wonderful the community in Utica was towards the local muslim community!) I still affirm that it is far too little and immigrant Buddhist sanghas seem predisposed towards this sort of selective application of ordinance and the communities support it or, at very least, are willing to be silent in their disagreement.
One particular instance that this was not true was with the Reverend Bobby Love that spoke up in protest about the actions of Johnson County [The video is over an hour long but worth watching to hear how ridiculous most of the complaints are and how little support the Laoist Buddhists received] in relation to the proposed Laoist temple. He spoke of his personal experience in moving his largely African American congregation to the same region in the 1980’s and recall the same sort of complaint.
Each of these communities need more people like Rev. Bobby Love to speak up on behalf of injustice. I am not the most comfortable with priviledge as an argument: However, from these examples, privilege and racial/religious discrimination does not necessarily come in a fury of angry voices, drama or violence. It is a cold, logical and well-rehearsed application of an undue burden placed upon certain groups while not on others. Listen to each of the verbal bullet points expressed by the citizens of Olathe, Kansas. It is cold, precise and well leveraged discrimination.