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The Rev. Laura M. George, J.D., is executive director of the Oracle Institute in Independence
I wish to address recent articles about The Oracle Institute’s proposed retreat center, which will include a school for comparative religious study, a sanctuary for spiritual growth, and (ironically) a forum for conflict resolution.
Kathy Isom passionately stated in her letter that God cannot be separated from our nation because, “He is everywhere.”
True, and this means that God is with all people (including atheists, whom she calls “Satan’s Angels”).
Oracle offers classes endorsing many paths to God. To quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “God is not a Christian.” And Jesus is but one of God’s holy messengers.
Lewis and Joanie Walker stated that citizens exercised their right to free speech at the Oracle hearing.
True, and most of them expressed their religious beliefs and bigotry (including calling me a heretic, communist, witch, cult leader, and other epithets).
Oracle publishes books condemning aggression in God’s name. And Jesus brought an Eleventh Commandment: Love thy enemy.
The Walkers go on to omit and misstate relevant facts: The Grayson County Planning Commission met twice and addressed all zoning code issues (the Walkers mainly cite building code issues); my neighbors walked the site and all their concerns were adopted by the planning commission; Supervisor Mike Maynard approved the project at the planning commission level, then changed his vote (apparently in response to evangelical threats and fears).
After denying the permit, the board voted to reopen the matter (ostensibly admitting their mistake). And regarding [building the state] the prison, I did commence legal proceedings against the board, along with 15 of my neighbors.
Need I counter the “view-shed” hypocrisy? This is the same board (save Ms. Sutherland) that wanted to put a prison on the New River.
This board approved a 150-unit trailer park on the river, despite planning commission denial and 38 opposition letters. Need I mention that the “Christian” developer of Spirit Harbor has been indicted for embezzlement?
Simply put, the facts in this matter are incontrovertible. The Board violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
They also violated the Virginia Constitution and numerous federal and state statutes — including The Oracle Institute mission statement: Thomas Jefferson’s Act for Religious Freedom (Virginia Code 57-1).
So the question that concerned citizens should be asking is: Why is this board wasting our precious tax dollars defending a lawsuit they cannot and should not win?