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The Christian Right has gotten complacent under Bush, They now feel safe committing petty crimes like vandalism, certain that no one will dare oppose them.  But one lady in Tifton, Goergia, a small city  half way between Atlanta and the Florida line. is taking them on. SHe needs our help.

Here's how I got involved.

I am on a lot of lists, but one of my favorites is called Gothic Décor. It’s aimed at those of us whose taste in home décor extends beyond matched sets from Rooms To Go.   We have enthusiasts of many styles; High Medieval complete with faux stone walls, Late Victorian, Romantic, and Asian Simplicity. Some folks are Goths, but many aren’t—they just share a similar taste for a more personal style of decorating.  It’s a great place to learn techniques and how to locate suppliers for more esoteric items like fake stone.  There are some great links on the website and wonderful photos of people’s projects.

Last week, though, one of our members, Shonda,  posted in great distress.  She lives next to the Alapah (UMC) church; their parking lot abuts her property.   She had several large trees and a hedge, which gave her privacy from prying eyes and which kept her summer electric bill down by providing shade for the three large front rooms.  Her neighbor, a member of the church board, warned her husband that the board planned to do something to their hedge and trees.   She suggested he get over to the courthouse and get a copy of info on the property line.  He did so, and even located the property line stakes. The trees and hedge were, indeed, on THEIR side of the line, not the church’s. He showed the neighbor, and asked them to hold off on doing anything until he got home from work.

Well, when Shonda came home after work, the trees and the hedge were gone.  As Shonda described it to our list:

Last Tues April 24th at 6pm my husband and I came home to find that the church that is directly across the street from us, United Methodist Church of Alapaha, GA had brought in a tree logger, a back hoe and other heavy equipment and RIPPED out every single tree, a 7 foot hedge, and every shrub WE OWNED. They were having a "tail gate" party when I pulled up to my house. Sitting there smugly smiling and waiting to see the reactions on our faces. I asked them what type of people would do such a hateful act, specially a church group. They just grinned and snickered. Oh, but wait, they left ONE tree cause it was an inch over on their property. That is to let us know that everything on our property line had to go, but thier’s could stay! These people have always been pleasant to us, and we to them. Even the woman who was leading the lynch mob, Carla P. has been in our house, her son’s needed some extra cash for the summer and we needed some help w/the house, so even some of these people have been to our house. I have a ½ acre lot of property they tore out every thing from ONE END OF MY PROPRTY FROM ONE STREET TO THE OTHER STREET. About 250- 350 feet !!!! MY ENTIRE side of my property is GONE!!!!!! It looked like a flip’n tornado came threw!

I DO have permission to quote from her emails.

Mind you, Shonda had never had any problems with these folks before.  She had even attended the church a couple of times, but selected a Baptist one instead. She had no warning other than the unofficial one from her friend.  She isn’t a Goth or a punk or even a Wiccan, just a nice married Baptist  woman who loves her late Victorian house and wants to do some renovations on it. She’s kept the yard in good repair, so there was no reason for this—and, more to the point—the church had no right to do this, since she owns the property they vandalized.

As she said, in reply to my query as to whether they might be violating any home association rules or doing anything that people might view as " Satanic Gothic":

Church never said a peep about our yard, which was kept up most of the time any how.  And I just found out yesterday that they did this to the previous owner of this house before us (third owner before us) and she was the one who replanted every thing back on HER property.  We are in negotiations right now w/the church.....but I will sue if things are not fixed correctly.  Hateful bunch of people that is for sure.  Our house looks NO different than anyone elses.  I'm not good at decorating outside, just inside of a house

She called the police and field an incident report.  And after the police left, people started driving by, honking their horns and laughing.  On my list, she says she no longer feels safe. She misses her privacy and her feeling of safety. And she can’t help wondering if the fact that she is Italian in ethnicity and her husband Filipino might have played a role—they’re not typical white bread WASPs. More to the point, she’s taken on a local church—and, down here,  Methodists is really more like SBC Lite rather than the moderate mainstream denomination I was used to up North.  She’s an outsider, only lived there for 6 years, and she’s dared to take on a PREACHER publicly. That's practically a hanging offense down here.

Calls to the church and the regional supervisors of the denomination have gotten nowhere. At least the district supervisor muttered an "I’m sorry" half-heartedly. The pastor and the board have yet to admit any wrong-doing other than over the way it was handled.

Here’s the full story complete with photos of the decimated yard. And here are the email addresses for the local honchos—maybe a few emails will get them off their duffs and they’ll see that something gets done about this act of vandalism.

Bishop: B. Michael Watson bishopsec@sgaumc.com
District Superintendent: Rev. Donald Adams valdist@bellsouth.net
Southeastern Jurisdiction: ccom@sgaumc.com

She also posted the home address for the pastor, but I feel uncomfortable posting anyone's address on a public forum, even someone who richly deserves   nasty mail, as this guy does.  If you choose to email them, the pastor's name is Rev. Jack Atkinson.

She hasn’t gotten an apology or an admission of guilt from the church board or the pastor.  Nor hs the district  offered to do anything to allay the damages.

This is OUR property, we pay taxes on it.  It is not rental.  The land stakes are visible for ALL to see where the property line is at.  Any one eyed idiot could clearly see the property line.  All these trees, hedges, etc, were either ON our property or on the property line.  Which the ones on the property line were still ours because a grandfather clause steps in.  Any person maintaining the up keep on a fence, tree, bush, etc, on the property line for over 7 years is that persons property.  We had been there for 6 years and the owners before that 2, (and the owners before that too) we all maintained the care of these bushes, trees, etc.  So dropping them an e-mail will only help our cause.

it is truly sad when you have to use shame and the threat of bad publicity and a law suit to get supposed Christians to do the right thing.

One good thing DID happen.  A couple who are members  of  another  Methodist church have offered to donate plants and saplings help out.  But nothing official from the UMC denomination. And that kind neighbor who was a board member and warned them of what was planned?  She and her family were kicked out of the church. "Christian" love  at its finest.  Jesus would have wept at this unkindness.

Currently, she is looking into the possibility of a law suit against the church—but with only 44 members, including the kids, it  doesn’t have deep pockets.

If this annoys you as much as it did me, feel free to e-mail Pastor Jack Atkinson’s superiors in the UMC.  A little pressure can work miracles.

I diaried about  this small local story because someone on the list suggested Shonda contact Daily Kos. We have THAT kind of reputation for standing up for the ordinary guy against the Powers That Be. I figured I’d save her the trouble of contacting people here, and just wrote it up myself.

Originally posted to irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There's a very sympathetic article (14+ / 0-)

    about this outrage in the local newspaper.

    irishwitch, does your friend have any idea what started this? Why did the members of this church do this?

    Yes, that sequence of words I just said made perfect sense.

    by sbdenmon on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:32:24 PM PDT

  •  Yeah, this is crap. (10+ / 0-)

    Guess this is one answer to the question "where do bullies go after high school?"

    ...moi aussi je n'aime pas ce bruit / moi aussi je n'aime pas ce bruit...

    by Diaries on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:37:42 PM PDT

  •  Sue. Sue, sue? Sue. (25+ / 0-)

    Pictures of the damage to the property, and clear records of how the damage affects her property (what if shewere forced to sell it as is, how much value would it have lost? what kind of money would she have to spend to replant it? what laws were broken by the church's action?)

    When a church goes vicious, authoritarian and reflects the lynch mobs that used to exist in this country, they only understand the hammer of authority putting them back in their place.

    If laws were broken and damage done to an individual's life, liberty or property, resolve it in a court of law.  Be as straightforward, direct, and cold-hearted with them as they were with you.  Because they have no sympathy, no respect and no right.

    Hillary Clinton = a colder Segolene Royal / Obama = the new Reagan

    by Nulwee on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:38:40 PM PDT

  •  I am nauseous after reading this... (5+ / 0-)

    and unfortunately this kind of thing is getting too typical, especially since bush took over the country.  
    Oh how I wish religion was just about love and understanding instead of hate and judgement.

    "Imagine all the people, Living life in peace..." John Lennon

    by angrybird on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:41:53 PM PDT

  •  It's easy to see why they have so few members n/t (7+ / 0-)

    We shall overcome, someday.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:42:31 PM PDT

  •  Sue 'em and shut 'em down. (7+ / 0-)

    For a church to do something like that proves that they aren't really in the family of believers.  Those members who weren't involved with it will thank Shonda for taking the church on.

    Does the UMC have a national hierarchy?  If they do, that's where Kossacks should send their support of Shonda to.

    Trust no organizaton bigger than two, and even those are suspect!

    by rjones2818 on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:49:39 PM PDT

  •  My response: (9+ / 0-)

    Matthew 7:15-20.

    King James Version:

    15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
    16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
    17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
    18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

    I think that they've made their "Christianity" clear.

  •  Don't just sue the church. (31+ / 0-)

    The lawyer will find out who paid to have the trees removed. Sue every individual member who played a part in it. She can also sue the tree removal company for not verifying the property line. Nobody will want to be liable for this, so they'll point fingers until you get the right people.

    And don't worry about the 44 members. If there are regional supervisors, keep suing up the org chart. Small groups only feel empowered if they think they have cover from larger groups.

    Document any additional acts by these members in support for restraining orders if it goes that far. Keep them from going to church.

    -6.00, -7.03
    "I want my people to be the most intolerant people in the world." - Jerry Falwell

    by johnsonwax on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:51:40 PM PDT

  •  UMC- My Understanding (9+ / 0-)

    is that this is a "corporatist" type organizational structure, so the pockets are not limited to the local church - the local church is merely a sub to the larger authority.  If I'm correct, liability would extend to the United Methodist Church's regional organization.  I would recommend suing - with an out-of-town attorney.  Sounds like a pretty cut and dried case of trespass with damages.

    "From all that terror teaches, from lies of tongue and pen, from all the easy speeches that comfort cruel men . . . deliver us, good Lord."

    by md jeffersonian on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:51:42 PM PDT

  •  This a counter-example. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pdrap, sbdenmon, Aaa T Tudeattack

    Most Christians, even RW Christian's are most likely offended by this type of behavior.

    You could ordinarily get large damages in a case like this but it will depend on the local judiciary.

    •  I agree. (0+ / 0-)

      But it isn't necessarily true down here. She is a transplant. Her husband is Asian. ANd thsoe woudl giv emany people plenty of reason to ahte her.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:23:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sue their cassocks off (9+ / 0-)

    Currently, she is looking into the possibility of a law suit against the church—but with only 44 members, including the kids, it  doesn’t have deep pockets.

    They may have only a few members but presumably they own the property the church sits on. Maybe the lady would like a large extension to her garden!

    Kneejerk reactions do not come from knees.

    by londonbear on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:54:06 PM PDT

  •  OK, have an email ready to go. (16+ / 0-)

    Wretch warning for non-Christians re: the wording, but I'm going way out on a limb and assuming that these folks are fairly Fundamentalist; you have to speak the language to get their attention.

    Dear Sirs:

    I am writing to you, not as a member of the [Alapaha UMC] congregation, but as a concerned Christian. A friend just forwarded a link to local newspaper coverage of the outrage perpetrated by members of the Alapaha UMC upon their neighbors there in Tifton. Frankly, I cannot imagine anyone who considers him- or herself a follower of Christ being a party to this. As the body of Christ here on Earth, it is our responsibility to share the love of our Saviour with those who do not have a relationship with Him; actions like those of this particular church make our jobs immeasurably harder, and make a mockery of our beliefs in the eyes of the world.

    Lest you think that I am opportunistically using this event to take cheap shots at the church, let me assure you that I am a longtime member of ***** ****** Community Church in ********, GA. My church dedicates many manhours and dollars to sharing the word of Christ with unchurched persons in our immediate area and around the country. But as someone who has personally donated time and money to setting up "planted" churches, I cannot stress enough that the un-Christlike actions of Alapaha UMC will affect the credibility of men and women who are trying to teach of Jesus' love and mercy.

    This horrible act cannot be undone, but this congregation must be forced to accept responsibility and make restitution to their neighbors. To do less undermines the teachings of the man whose name we proudly proclaim.

    Can't hurt to let 'em know that other Christians find this absolutely reprehensible behavior.

    Yes, that sequence of words I just said made perfect sense.

    by sbdenmon on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:58:24 PM PDT

    •  SHe'll appreciate it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sbdenmon

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:19:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sbdenmon

      awesome!

      "Do you want to tumble? Let's tumble." Stephen Colbert

      by tobendaro on Mon May 07, 2007 at 06:28:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  one thing though - (0+ / 0-)

      from what you write, it sounds like you're saying the victim was "unchurched", she seems to have simply joined a different church from the one that did this to her.  

      It's just the way it came across to me - maybe I'm misreading it.

      'The votes are in, and we won.' - Jim Webb

      by lcork on Mon May 07, 2007 at 08:21:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. She tried this church on for size (0+ / 0-)

        and foudn another. Her FIREND, who warned her this was coming, WAS unchurched.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 08:28:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually (0+ / 0-)

          I was commenting on sbdenmom's letter, which seemed to say that the victim was "unchurched" - but oy - now I'm confused, didn't you say that the person who tipped her off was on the board of the church?  

          It's not a big issue, really, just... the churched/unchurched thing kind of gets to me.  In the church we used to belong to, they had this weird thing where if you prayed with someone from outside the church there was something wrong with that.  Never heard of such a thing, and it seemed very wrong-headed to me.  So I get a little uppity over even a hint of "my church is the REAL church and YOURS isn't" attitude - which I'm sure was not intended in any case... (it's late, and I'm rambling, sorry!)

          But what your friend went through - it's really horrible thing to do to anyone - I can't imagine what I would feel like if someone did that to me.  I used to feel guilty about trimming back my neighbor's tree that drooped over the walk to my front door.  I would have to get poked in the eye a couple of times before I would get out the clippers and carefully cut it back.  I cannot fathom what went on in the minds of these people that they could even for a nanosecond convince themselves that it was acceptable to do this thing.  And then to laugh about it - I hope your friend gets the justice she deserves on this issue.  Please keep us updated.  

          'The votes are in, and we won.' - Jim Webb

          by lcork on Mon May 07, 2007 at 09:14:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, the person who (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fabian, Spoc42

            warned her was kicked out of the church--and had been a board member. Apparently they rid themselves of the only real Christian they had.

            ANd I plan to keep you guys updated, Just a few letters tot he UMC higher-ups may helo. It looks really bad when you're gettign email from peopel in TX.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 09:22:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Um... no. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lcork

        The only instance of that word refers to my own church; it was never used in context of the victims here. And when we use it, it is only to refer to people who do not attend any type of church at all, never to refer to members of a different congregation.

        Yes, that sequence of words I just said made perfect sense.

        by sbdenmon on Tue May 08, 2007 at 04:09:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  fuck organized religion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oxley, DeannaHawk, howardx

    these people have their heads so far up their collective ass that they not only act and think they are above the law, the believe it.
    I would hope she is pressing charges and scouring the net for an atty. that has a hard on for churches and willing to do pro bono work.
    I went to the linked story and then to the comment section. Somebody said that they think the church was just mistaken about the property line and that they had a hard time believing a church around that area could have that much hate.
    As if churches around there commonly have just a little bit'o hate in them, not enough to destroy somebodies property of course, but just enough. wtf.
    Fuckin' worlds gone mad.

    The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

    by FireCrow on Mon May 07, 2007 at 04:58:41 PM PDT

    •  Ditto and then some.n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  It's also human nature. This type of thing is (6+ / 0-)

      not limited to Christians, or to any one religion.  I've known as many asshole atheists as Christians in my life.  

      •  athiests (0+ / 0-)

        don't "flock" together in huge groups reading hypnotic fairy tales,  working themselves into a trance like frenzy, while praying for the fucking death and destruction of three fifths of humanity so they can go home. Totally inappropriate argument you got there Joel.

        The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

        by FireCrow on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:39:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let's try not to get into a pie fight (10+ / 0-)

          over religion v. atheism. It has nothing to do with the situation this diary describes.

          The ONLY reason religion plays a role in this is that a CHURCH was behind the vandalism. If it had been a single kid, his religion wouldn't have come into play.  

          And DO NOTE that the couple who donated plants are members of a different METHODIST church--and that the neighbor who warned her was a member of this one.

          Organized religion can do much good. I say that as soemoen who is a WIccan which is disorganized religiona t it sfienst.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:42:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Neither do the vast majority of Christians. (4+ / 0-)

          Your argument won't hold up very well, either, FireCrow.

          Look, I can understand the frustration and hostility, but not all Christians act or believe like the fundies that are currently running our gov't. Don't paint all of us with such a wide brush.

          Yes, that sequence of words I just said made perfect sense.

          by sbdenmon on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:42:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

            I have been to many small churches that are doing good things in the world.
            My experience is also that the more corporatized they become, the less they are interested in doing good works. With the exeption of my posts title
            "fuck organized religion", which I withdraw, I stand by what I said. I made no argument. If the metaphor "heads up their asses" doesn't work for you, pick another that would fit that type of collective above the law behavior.
            First they chop down your trees, next year you are tied to one of theirs, burning.

            The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

            by FireCrow on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:50:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ahianne, irishwitch, Cassandra Waites

              My experience is also that the more corporatized they become, the less they are interested in doing good works.

              Exactly right; it's the ones who become entrenched and try to maintain their personal status quo that you have to watch out for.

              If the metaphor "heads up their asses" doesn't work for you, pick another that would fit that type of collective above the law behavior.

              My point is that their behavior has nothing to do with Christianity; they were a mob, pure and simple. For whatever reason, they felt they could get away with this (probably because they already had gotten away with it once). This was a bunch of goons who happened to meet inside a building with "Church" written on it; this was not the act of true Christians.

              I'm not disagreeing with you, exactly, just asking that you (and everyone else) not lump all Christians into the same category. I am a Christian, and I would never condone actions such as these.

              Yes, that sequence of words I just said made perfect sense.

              by sbdenmon on Mon May 07, 2007 at 06:07:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I get your point (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sbdenmon, DeannaHawk

                but.. when people who gather in a building that everyone on earth would recognize as a "christian" building and a name on it everyone recognizes as a "christian" denomination, and a tax exempt status to boot, don't you think it's a bit disingenuous to try to make them out as something other than what they claim to be?  I'm on your side here, what I have a hard time with is that people like yourself who do in fact live a life devoted to the promotion of christs love and ideals, are willing to tolerate these fake bastards that are destroying the public image of christianity. If they do not represent the christian family then maybe it's time to clean house.
                Let me try it this way: A father knows some of his many sons are out breaking the law, causing trouble and hurting people, the rest of the family doesn't like it but it's tolerated until one of them gets caught. The family avoided doing anything about it till now because it's uncomfortable. The father does not now dismiss him as not being part of his family or pretend not to know him or call him a different last name.
                He brings him home,  talks to him, explains to him again, with patience, the rules and character the  family lives by. He  watches over and supervise him. If this does not work and he refuses against all the familiy members wishes then he is expelled, his name taken and cast off to his fate.

                My point is that their behavior has nothing to do with Christianity; they were a mob, pure and simple. For whatever reason, they felt they could get away with this (probably because they already had gotten away with it once). This was a bunch of goons who happened to meet inside a building with "Church" written on it; this was not the act of true Christians.

                These people are the ones who are destroying the church from within.
                Saying they are not christians is true on a intellectual  level, on paper and in the publics eye, they quite certainly are.

                The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

                by FireCrow on Mon May 07, 2007 at 06:43:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ahianne, FireCrow, Cassandra Waites

                  don't you think it's a bit disingenuous to try to make them out as something other than what they claim to be?

                  Their actions proclaim that they are not Christian; I fail to see how my pointing that out is disingenuous.

                  . . . people like yourself . . . are willing to tolerate these fake bastards that are destroying the public image of christianity. If they do not represent the christian family then maybe it's time to clean house.

                  Serious question here: what would you have me do? In this particular case, I am not Methodist, I am not a member of the offending church, I do not live in the town in question. I've already sent emails to the addresses given in both the diary and comments, as well as one to the senior pastor of my own church. I will donate to this couple's legal fund, if it comes to that. What else would you have me do? I hold no position of power over these people; I don't have the ability to hold them accountable.

                  In a general sense, I often hear comments to the effect of, "You need to police your own. You need to clean house." What can I say to make you realize that these people are not my own, in any sense of the word? I am a member of a large, nondenominational Christian congregation; we do not support, financially or otherwise, any church organization: not the UMC, not the SBC, not the Vatican, not any of them. We as a church have broken from the heirarchies and hypocritical tenets of those groups; we have no power over them, nor they over us. How can we possibly police their actions?

                  We can only do what is within our ability to do: live by the Word, and walk the walk. "Love the Lord with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself."

                  Yes, that sequence of words I just said made perfect sense.

                  by sbdenmon on Mon May 07, 2007 at 07:11:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  In reality, the WORST churches-- (4+ / 0-)

              the ones most likely to be scary--are the non-denominational ones. They don't belong to a group and their preaches don't have to go through a seminary.   They pretty much make it up as they go along and usually follow a charismatic preacher.

              In fact. one of the best organized churches,the Episcopalian, is also among the most liberal.

              sbdemom is right. You are painting with too broad a brush.  I left Catholicism and became a Wiccan because I ws frustrated by Ca0htolicism's handling of sexuality, birth control, abortion, women's roles, and homosexuality. But despite all my problems with them, I see a lot of good that is done by  laity and clergy and nuns alike. A religion is MORE than just its hierarchy or official teachings. Catholciism, for example, works best a the parish level.--you hear a lot of bishopos yammering abotu denbying communion to pols, but you seldom hear a sound from the parish priests whoa ctuallyw ould be faced witht he decision--ebcause they, unlike the bishops, exist in relaity.

              The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

              by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 07:06:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know if this will help (13+ / 0-)

    or not, irishwitch, but I found this

    Deliberately Harming a Tree

    In almost every state, a person who intentionally injures someone else's tree is liable to the owner for two or three times the amount of actual monetary loss. These penalties protect tree owners by providing harsh deterrents to would-be loggers.

    and

    The basic rule is that someone who cuts down, removes, or hurts a tree without permission owes the tree's owner money to compensate for the harm done. You can sue to enforce that right -- but you probably won't have to, once you tell your neighbor what the law is.

    at the FindLaw website.

    If I were your friend, I'd be speaking to a lawyer as soon as I was able.  Seems like her property rights were definitely trashed.

    "Ancora Imparo." ("I am still learning.") - Michelangelo, Age 87

    by Dreaming of Better Days on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:00:09 PM PDT

  •  Sue. Please tell her to sue. You should be (4+ / 0-)

    able to find a plaintiff's attorney who will do a contingency plus type of deal, at least.

    I'm a United Methodist.  It is not as liberal as it used to be, or as I would like it to be, but this is not what Methodism is about.

    Sue them.  Sue the conference, if you can.

  •  This is a sin. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sbdenmon, Boreal Ecologist

    Does she need $$ for legal expenses?

  •  Don't have deep pockets? (9+ / 0-)

    Do they own the land the church stands on?

    Serves three purposes -- gives you money to restore your land, shows them that they really can't get away with it, and gets them away from you.

    Just be sure your attorney knows how to pick a jury, how to demand a judge recuse himself in your city if necessary, and -- as a last resort -- how to get a change of venue.

    I am so sick of people doing things just because they believe they can.  I'm even sicker of them being right.

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

    by nilajean on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:14:22 PM PDT

  •  I know from my own family that "Christian Love" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sbdenmon, debedb

    can be a cover for seething hate.

  •  I sent an email to the national UMC. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, sbdenmon, Opakapaka

    I'm working on reducing the anger level in messages to those more closely connected, and will send them soon. That's just disgusting.

    And I'll agree with many of the other commenters: sue, sue, sue.

    "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." -- Gandhi

    by akasha on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:28:12 PM PDT

  •  why can't I find the picture? (0+ / 0-)

    query?????

  •  Why? (7+ / 0-)

    I mean just that - Why?  Why would a church of a whopping 44 members pay to have someone's trees and shrubs ripped out?  It's either the stupidest thing I have ever heard of a church doing with its resources or the most spiteful.

    As a gardener, I can tell you I would be absolutely, totally spitting mad.  It's the equivalent of walking into their church and ripping out and carrying off some pews.  I hope she takes them to court and has a lawyer throw the book at them.  Not every charge will stick, but the ones that do should carry a lesson and a penalty with them.

    We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

    by Fabian on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:31:33 PM PDT

    •  A lot of rural farmers have access to a (0+ / 0-)

      tree logger, and would loan it and themselves to run it to hurt someone they feared.

      Do I correctly assume that the part in the beginning of the diary about decor was to tell us that they might be seeming a little strange to the neighbors.

      Also the part about not getting around to the outside yet?

      More facts, more history, more indications of the context.

      Rural Georgia is scary. I went to school at Florida State in Tallahassee. I know these people.

      It's dead rural, about a thousand population, surrounded by farmland.

      109 miles northeast of Tallahassee. Dangerous.

      This is a reality-based community. Those who wish to live outside it should find a new home. This isn't it. -- Kos--

      by ormondotvos on Mon May 07, 2007 at 06:24:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, the are mainstream (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ahianne, Fabian

        I specifically ASKED if they were Goth  and they aren't, Gothic Decor has to do with a style of decorating that may be Goth in the sense people mean it--but can also include simply  Victorian Gothic architecture and furniture., The list runs the gamut of fairly mainstream folks. She attends a Baptist church and they don't welcome Goths, generally. So, no, you got it completely wrong.

        What she was saying was simply that she isn't a heavy duty gardener type. She was sticking to what was already there.  I don't garden either. I kill plants--the curse of the Black Thumb. My husband handles the outdoor stuff.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 07:00:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Also it wouldn't hurt to add the cost (7+ / 0-)

    of her A/C bill for at the least next 10-15
    years (until the foliage can grow back to
    its previous height.) Add that figure to
    any lawsuit for damages.

    If someone did this to me the first call
    after calling the police (for trespassing
    to start) would be to a lawyer.

    I believe she has every right to be spitting mad.

  •  Sue the bastards. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch

    Wow-- that doesn't sound like the Methodists I've encountered, but please sue these hateful pricks.

  •  I am taking a break for an hour (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Opakapaka, Boreal Ecologist

    to watch Heroes. I need a Hiro fix (love that character; taught English to guys like him in TOkyo for 7 years).

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:47:07 PM PDT

  •  They are christians (0+ / 0-)

    if she ever expected anything except for hate, it was her fault - she's had thousands of years of warning

    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

    by tiponeill on Mon May 07, 2007 at 05:55:38 PM PDT

  •  Primitive Googling gives this: (0+ / 0-)

    This is a reality-based community. Those who wish to live outside it should find a new home. This isn't it. -- Kos--

    by ormondotvos on Mon May 07, 2007 at 06:05:05 PM PDT

  •  Replant with Osage Orange (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Spoc42

    It was planted as a hedge before barbed wire was introduced to keep cattle out, has sharp thorns, grows 3 to 6 feet in a year, and the wood makes a nice war club. The oil is also said to repel roaches. Perfect.

    Osage Orange

    Laissez-faire was never a good idea; in practice it is ruinous. - Bill Moyers

    by terabytes on Mon May 07, 2007 at 06:10:12 PM PDT

  •  I'm going for the shame angle (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, lcork, irishwitch

    This is what I wrote:

    Subject: We heard about the hedges

    I'm sure that some people wanted this story kept quiet, but
    you should know that Austin Texas is talking about it!

    Somehow, I don't think this reflects very positively on you,
    your congregations, your church, or your religion. What do
    you think?

  •  Disgraceful.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch

    One thing caught my eye....

    "She had several large trees and a hedge, which gave her privacy from prying eyes and which kept her summer electric bill down by providing shade for the three large front rooms."

    You may suggest that if she sues she makes sure that they pay her electric bills... I hope she does sue. The pocket book is the only way to make a point with some people.

    I would suspect that harassment will become an issue with this one... She needs an attorney...not a local... and perhaps a restraining order.

  •  Just a quick question... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian

    Was there fire wood made from the trees? And if so, who did what with it? A cord of firewood can be expensive...that should be added to the costs...

  •  As a candidate for ministry in the UMC (0+ / 0-)

    I felt compelled to write a letter.  Sent it to the DS and Bishop

    Gentlemen,

    I am a certified candidate for ordination within the United Methodist Church and have previously served as the Chair of Trustees for my home UMC. I also participate on a number of political blogs where I attempt to share my understanding and experience of God's Love with people who are often either indifferent or who have been deeply hurt by "religious" people whose actions do not exemplify Christ's commandment to love one another or the fruits of the Spirit outlined by Paul.

    Recently I was confronted with this recent story of an incident in your jurisdiction:

    http://www.tiftongazette.com/...

    It was presented as representative of how hypocritical and ungodly much of the modern church is. Stories like this turn people away from the Church, and away from God. They are counterproductive to our ministries and I think we should take them very seriously.

    As a member of the UMC, I am deeply embarrassed by this church's apparent treatment of it's neighbors. I realize I have only "one side" - there are no quotes from the church members themselves - but really - what is Alapah UMC's possible defense?  Are they even arguing the plantings were on their property?  Are they claiming the property line markings were wrong? Was ANY attempt at a mutually acceptable outcome attempted?  In what way were the actions - during and after the removal of these trees and shrubs, helpful in sharing God's love with all people?

    That, after all, is why the church exists - not to intimidate. Not to harass. Not to humiliate others. Not to squabble over property lines and plantings.  

    We exist to make Disciples for Jesus Christ.

    How did this alleged behavior accomplish that goal?

    As a member of the UMC and a candidate, I'm embarrassed by this event and your apparent collective lack of reaction to it.  A mere "No comment" and even "I’m really sorry" without any attempt to undo the damage and rein in the perpetrators fail to live up to the standard for behavior I find in my study of Scripture and the UMC's Discipline.

    If my understanding of this incident is flawed, please do not hesitate to let me know how. Convince me and I'll help counter the story as it's being presented. Demonstrate to me how Alapah UMC was acting legally, let alone in a Christian manner, towards it's neighbors. Let me know how this action shared the Love of God and spread the Good News. I'll eagerly await your reply.

    But presuming that the article is grounded in fact, such a response won't be easy to put together. In that case, I request that you publicly apologize, reimburse these homeowners, help them replace the plantings, and take disciplinary action against the pastor and church if things are as the article describes. I also request followup to make sure these neighbors are not further disturbed by the members of Alapah UMC. Christ taught us to love our neighbors, and that specifically included even the hated Samaritans of his day. Surely this couple are within the scope of God's love. And if they do happen to be "enemies" - well, seems to me that our Lord had words about that too.

    I appreciate your service to the Church and the difficult position these events have put you in. It seems to me the most likely outcome is a lawsuit. Why not make things right before it comes to that?

    Sincerely

    my real name and city

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