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Friday, September 2, 2011

Circus may be coming to Sunnyside neighborhood

If asked to locate the geographic center of the Portland weirdness movement, we'd probably put it somewhere near the corner of Southeast 32nd and Taylor. It's between Hawthorne and Belmont, in the Sunnyside section of town, just over the neighborhood line from Buckman. You've got your senior citizens still living their patchouli hippie ways of the late '60s, mixed in with your dedicated drum circle hipsters in ramshackle rentals, your greener-than-thou government workers biking to their city jobs, and a few of your working stiffs just barely getting by in Joe Weston's motel-style apartments from the '70s.

There are food cart pods and bike racks galore. Countless urban chickens clucking away. Many bars, few trendy. A lot of heroin -- bought, sold, shot up -- and when you're finished doing that, there's a lovely methadone clinic. Homeless guys rattle their shopping carts full of empty bottles and cans in an eternal loop from the St. Francis soup kitchen to the Hawthorne Fred Meyer.

The politics of the place are left -- as in, way left. Politicians like Earl Blumenauer get 99% of the vote. Republicans don't even bother to try for a seat in the state legislature. At the Catholic churches, they petition the Lord to "deliver us from homphobia." When we lived down there for a couple of years in the '90s, we used to endure regular lectures from strangers who saw some of our lawn sprinkler water landing on the sidewalk or caught us using herbicide on weeds. In short, there is probably no more politically correct place anywhere on the planet.

And so one wonders what's going to happen down that way now that a hard-core right-wing church has bought an old church building at 32nd and Taylor and plans to open for services next weekend. As the O explains, the tenets of this congregation are 180 degrees opposite of the prevailing neighborhood vibe:

Mars Hill Church was founded in 1996 by Pastor Mark Driscoll and operates nine campuses, mostly in Seattle, with three more on the way, including the one in Portland. Driscoll is a tech-savvy minister who preaches — often in jeans and baseball caps — against homosexuality and urges gays to turn from sin.

"A gay couple walks into your group, you’re supposed to tell them to repent," Driscoll said in a sermon posted on the church website. "And if at any point you don’t tell them to repent, you’re not faithful to Biblical Christianity."

He also believes that the sexual abuse of children is a "trigger" for same-sex attraction as adults. In a video sermon posted on YouTube, he calls yoga "absolute paganism."

Within a mile of that church, the segment of residents who would agree with that platform is well under 10% -- probably closer to zero. So who is going to go to the services there? And whoever they are, how will they and the neighbors get along?

Not real well, is what we're thinking. This is not far from the neighborhood whose more extreme elements firebombed a Starbucks. A lot will probably depend on whether the church keeps its zeal within its own walls, or tries to take it out into its immediate surroundings.

Comments (37)

Sounds like they need a good dose of tighty righty. You know, Portland diversity and all that.

They'll do great in that spot. Mars Hill is part of the new wave of Gen X styled churches: mosh pits, piercings, etc etc. Walk by, for example, Imago Dei at burnside and sandy (seems they took over foursquare?), and you'll see lots of skinny jeans and lots of biking pierced etc.

Remember Erik Hoffer and how the true believer hipsters and activists can quite readily be converted to religious nonsense true believers.

I know that neighborhood well and this could be interesting.

I wonder which side'll win the most hate points?

*yawn* The haters at Hinson Baptist have survived in the gayborhood without incident for years. I looked at a house around there back in the 80s. The downside certainly was being that close to Hinson. But we didn't buy the place because the sellers had the place way overpriced.

Ah...The American Taliban...taking over the nation, one neighborhood at a time.

Keep you friends close...and right wing zealots closer. God hates haters.

Ahh, haters hatin' haters.
Bread and Circuses.

Where are they going to park?

There's hardly any bus service on Sunday and MAX is 39 blocks away.

The rainbow hipsters are upset that a church which preaches intolerance is moving into the neighborhood. And their solution is to villify them and suggest they should locate elsewhere?

That's not very tolerant of them, now is it?

At times, tolerance is overrated Mister Tee. And I will tolerate anyone who does not seek to abridge my civil liberties. But the right wing thumpers are all about interfering with other's civil liberties and trying to use the state to shove their brand of religion down other's throats as well as legislate religious views into law.

Seems like a logical location to me.
Didn't the early missionaries plow right into "Darkest Africa" to convert the natives.
That's what missionaries do.

Ya gotta go where the sinners are.


Does the righty-tighty church retain their freedom to worship as they see fit.

Can they locate their church wherever zoning will permit?

Does the right to offensive speech (like flag burning) extend only to the Left?

Living in a free society means hearing and seeing things in public which you may find objectionable: that's why I quit working downtown.

Well, the new owners may have a little surprise coming for them in the near future...

A quick look at shows that the former owner paid a considerable amount of taxes on the property over the past several years. As such, it is highly unlikely that it was actually used as a church (sounds like the guy lived in it) and that it has most likely lost its conditional use as a church in a residential area. In fact, it looks like the previous owners were hit with an unlawful occupancy change previously -- probably for trying to start back up a church without getting a new occupancy permit, something that can be extremely dificult in a residential area without an ample amount of parking.

Another clue is that the building was listed on as a "church home", not just a "church." Sounds to me like the owner and the real estate agent knew it wasn't legally a church anymore, so made sure to include "home" in the listing to try to protect him/herself (hint - that probably won't work). If the owners (and the real estate agent) didn't disclose that it has lost its conditional use, they're in for a big law suit when the new guys get shut down after the first occupancy complaint to 503-823-CODE (you can remain completely anonymous, btw).

With a little digging by an intrepid reporter, this could be a great follow up story...

Mister Tee - You're filling the pond with red herrings.

However, yes, righties can locate their dens of iniquity where zoning allows. Of course, I should be allowed to open a porn shop next door since it's not residential.

Obviously, I believe in free speech. Duh!

Again, this is not about what the right winger religious morons say. It's about their wanting to control the lives of those who do not subscribe to their beliefs. Is that really too difficult to comprehend? Or don't you want to acknowledge that ugly reality? If the righties want to convince others to follow their beliefs with words, more freaking power to them. However, forcing others to follow their beliefs but using the law as a weapon is not cool and violates the vision of the Founders.

That should read:

However, forcing others to follow their beliefs by using the law as a weapon is not cool and violates the vision of the Founders.

That's funny and good detective work instant karma.

A quick look at shows that the former owner paid a considerable amount of taxes on the property over the past several years.

Verrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting. The Mercury quoted the now-previous owner as saying, in reference to his payment of property taxes, something like "God doesn't need a tax break." In other words, he *could* have avoided taxes, but he chose to pay them. Now I'm wondering if he paid them because the church had lost its conditional use as a church.

However, I live mere blocks from there, and walk past all the time. To the best of my knowledge they had weekly services, most of which consisted of them broadcasting vidoes of old sermons featuring nutty L.A. evangelist Gene Scott.

In the hamlet of Oberlin, Ohio, a college founded by abolitionists and the first to accept women and black students, and possibly the first to publish a policy of non-discrimintation toward gay students, we had a right-wing street preacher named Zed. Zed always drew a crowd, including incredulous freshmen, some of whose idea of a good time was protesting investments in South Africa and singing "we shall overcome" in a large circle in the park.

We need Zeds in America, just to take the edge of seriousness off. And to draw a bright line of contrast between ourselves and other nations, like Iraq, whose supreme religious leader, Ali Sistani (subject of 2003 NYT puff piece about his holiness), published on his website a death fatwa against gays, including a good way to get rid of them. "Throw them from the highest height in the area, like a tall building, or a cliff."

If this were a Wahhabi Mosque, the Mayor would be at the ribbon cutting and the Rainbow Hipsters would be watching them slaughter the lambs.

And the Wahhabi's intolerance of homosexuality makes the Southern Baptists look like progressives by comparison.

Why is it ok to build a Mosque next to the WTC, but Portland's progressives can't tolerate a church that preaches intolerance?

Medieval views are perfectly acceptable to the Left when voiced by Muslims, but they're a violation of civil rights when voiced by Christians.

The irony couldn't be richer.

The Portland I grew up in was a live-and-let-live kind of place. My right to be objectionable ended at my property line. People these days seem to want to control the lives of others no matter what end of the spectrum they come from. At one time, we were raised to think that we were all Americans with a common culture that could be defined in relation to the beliefs of the founding fathers. Along came the 70s with situational ethics and the idea that everyone could choose for him or herself how to act and what to believe. The last part is OK, but its the first part that is causing so much angst. I don't think the older, saner Portland was less tolerant -- in fact it was the opposite. We just didn't talk about it and government was limited to core services that we all agreed upon like water, sewers, etc.

Again, this is not about what the right winger religious morons say. It's about their wanting to control the lives of those who do not subscribe to their beliefs.

So, apparently, they're the ones behind the the couplets, the trains, the streetcars, the condos, the bioswales, the water house,the Rose Festival headquarters....

Thanks for clearing up that whole "controlling other people's lives" issue.

Mister Tee - I'd suggest you quit with the mind altering substances. I disdain fundamentalists of all ilk - Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Bahai (they hate gays too), etc. If you think I personally am singling out one set of intolerators over another, you need help. And most of my brothers and sisters don't really brook that crap from anyone whatever their rabid form of fundamentalist belief might be. So quit crying persecution when it's apparently your pals that are in the position to do the greatest amount of it in the USA.

"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.: 1 Thessalonians 1:5. King James version.

I am not sure conditional use permits are transferable, because conditions can vary from particular use to particular use- and process is necessary to understand and mitigate impacts in a residential zone.

Portland's leaders, and the Obama Administration, have been most gracious and tolerant of Islam, especially when being practiced in the United States.

Perhaps the Sunnyside Hipsters could do the same for this Christian Church?

And yes, LucasAdvo: you are most certainly singling out this set of intolerators over all others. Why? Because fundamentalist Christians are an anachronism in a progressive society. And liberal lip service regarding freedom of speech and tolerance only extend to their politically correct subsidiaries.

I stand by my earlier premise: if this were a Mosque moving into the neighborhood, their views on homosexuality would be ignored and they would be welcomed to the neighborhood.

Ironic and contradictory, for sure; this argument is much more than a red herring.

Mister Tee - No, I do disdain all fundamentalists equally and you don't get to decide what I think or how I feel because you've never met me. And I don't care what the eff they say in their churches or houses or other places. However, if they care to harangue me on a sidewalk or show up a certain events where they are not the permit holders, then my freedom of speech means they will get the Italian-American version of free speech right back at them which means they'll be hearing about casting stones, etc. And it utterly p*sses me off when I get tract literature (that is both anti-day and anti-Catholic (my relatives have the right to hold those beliefs)) on the front door of my private residence as that is not a public forum.

So Mister Tee quit being a pissant with me and go buy one of your criminal cop friends a cocktail and commiserate about the sad state of affairs when cops cannot break the law and violate civil rights with impudence.

Mister Tee - Here's a freedom of speech question for you. How do you feel about Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist loonies protesting at the private funerals of fallen military heroes? Do you really think those families deserve that kind of treatment on such a solemn occassion? Because following all of your comments up to this time it sounds like you'd be right out there with them being disrespectful. And it seems like the Repug in AZ are not too fond of Phelps and his marlarkey

A beautiful church.

Lots of people say ignorant, disrespectful, and offensive things, usually outside of Church. Many of them aren't even churchgoers.

I wish more Americans worried about Islamofascism and less about the Westboro Baptists, who only serve to marginalize themselves each time they assemble.

Mister Tee - Are you going to answer the question? Does your idea of freedom of speech extend to Phelps and the gang disrupting the funerals of fallen military men and women?

Phelps and the adherents of Westboro Baptist Church have whatever rights the courts and local law enforcement afford them. I don't have to like their message to acknowledge their rights to deliver it.

I also think the grieving family members of American Servicemen have the right to shoot them when they enter the cemetery or disrespect the dead, but the courts may disagree with my interpretation.

Mister Tee - Freedom of speech has limits. However, I don't suppose you grasp the finer points of constitutional law so I will let that go except to say that disruption of private events is not covered.

As for the funerals, the Patriot Guard Riders have done their best to deal with the Phelps clan.

I'm sure you're much smarter and better educated than I, LucsAdvo.

So your opinions are much more persuasive.

LusAdvo: you certainly know what ad hominem arguments are. So you accuse Mister Tee of using "mind-altering substances" and being a "pissant." Meanwhile MT is expressing an opinion, not attacking you. In short, have you ever engaged in a civil discussion without getting personal? I doubt it.

Don Lief - I suggest you read this whole thread very carefully and look for this quote from your boyfriend, Mister Tee:

"And yes, LucasAdvo: you are most certainly singling out this set of intolerators over all others. Why? Because fundamentalist Christians are an anachronism in a progressive society. And liberal lip service regarding freedom of speech and tolerance only extend to their politically correct subsidiaries."

See I do get a bit testy when someone ignores all that I have written prior to this point and wants to put words in my mouth and intent in my mind. So, instead of strafing me for sticking up for myself, why not go after the real begetter of ad hominem in this thread? Just sayin'

"Boyfriend"????? Ah, LucsAdvo, there you go again. Poor man.


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