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Shocked and Amazed

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by Engyo, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Engyo

    Engyo Prince of Dorkness!

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    6,386
    That the Texas Gov't. would pass this! Coleman is my neighbor; that part doesn't surprise me. The fact that the law passed does, though!

    New Texas law defends residents’ religious displays

    Years after a Jewish couple in Houston were fined for displaying a mezuzah on the door frame of the condo they rented in the Heights, a new Texas law prohibits home owners’ associations from banning such religious objects.

    The bill was one of the final pieces of legislation signed by Gov. Rick Perry at the end of the session Friday and prevents restrictions against “displaying or affixing on the entry to the owner’s or resident’s dwelling one or more religious items the display of which is motivated by the owner’s or resident’s sincere religious belief.” (An association may still put rules in place to restrict the size of an item or ban objects with offensive imagery or language. Full text of the bill is available here.)

    “People assume that religious freedom is something you just have, and they take it for granted. It’s good to know that these laws are out there,” said Monica Lundeen Smith, whose case led Rep. Garnet Coleman, of Houston, to push the bill through the Texas legislature. Similar laws are on the books in Illinois and Florida, both responses to mezuzah cases.

    The Torah instructs Jews to keep God’s commandments “upon the doorposts of thy house,” so Jewish homes and businesses hang small boxes containing a tiny Torah scroll by entrance doors, called mezuzot. They serve as a reminder of God’s laws and some believe they also provide blessings and protection to the dwelling.

    Lundeen Smith, a Conservative Jew who grew up at Congregation Brith Shalom and later attended Congregation Beth Yeshurun, had hung a mezuzah at every place she’d lived, so she didn’t even think twice about hanging the few-inch long object outside their condo.

    Even though the hallway of the complex was littered with doormats, Christmas decorations, plants and other décor, “we got a letter four months in saying to take the ‘item’ down. We thought, ‘OK, they must not know what it is, we’ll just explain it to them,’” she said.

    But it wasn’t that easy. As renters, they were unable to negotiate the terms of a lease they’d already signed, even if it was to resist religious discrimination.

    The Heights at Madison Park sued them for not removing the object and the couple, with the help of Lundeen Smith’s lawyer parents, countersued. They lost the case and moved out of the complex when their lease was up. In 2009, the Lundeens reached out to Coleman, their representative, to keep their case from happening to other people of faith.

    “I filed this bill to extend religious freedom in situations where it may not exist. In this situation it was very clear that this couple was singled out because of their faith. Thanks to this family’s courage and willingness to share their story, other Texans will not have to go through a similar experience,” said Coleman.

    New Texas law defends residents’ religious displays | Believe It or Not | a Chron.com blog
     
  2. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Engineer Libertarian

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    65,009
    Local, state & federal government sometimes put landlords in awkward positions. Honoring housing codes, zoning ordinances & condominium
    by-laws can pit the landlord against the tenant & against some arm of government. All you can do is pick your side & try to find a solution.
    Here in Ann Arbor, I had one nasty battle with a condo association which tried to evict a tenant of mine in violation of fair housing laws.
    I sided with the tenant & beat'm. Zoning laws place restrictions which violate family status protections under fair housing laws too.
    Anyway, good for Texas' new law to make it easier for tenants & landlords.
     
  3. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    22,701
    It's nice to see religious freedom protected from discrimination by other religious people.
     
  4. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli Premium Member

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    32,992
    Exactly.
     
  5. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    6,238
    Religion:
    Jewish
    Good lord, who gets sued for having a mezuzah on their door??! WTF is the matter with those people?!

    I've lived in apartments and condos my whole life, and every year had to sit through months of garish Christmas lights and artificial pine and whatnot, and always just sighed and reminded myself that this is America, where we tolerate other people's beliefs. I've lived in any number of places where my neighbors had decorative crosses or Jesus fish on their doors or in their windows. Never even thought to make it an issue.

    And these folks get tossed out of their home because they put up a mezuzah?!!

    I never thought I'd see the day when religious people passed a law in Texas that actually helped protect the religious freedoms of non-Christians....I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day....

    But in any case, I sincerely hope we hear no more of this sort of crap. What the ever-loving f***?! Seriously.
     
  6. Mathematician

    Mathematician Reason, and reason again

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    5,722
    I'm willing to bet those who were offended by the display didn't think it was Jewish...
     
  7. fallingblood

    fallingblood Agnostic Theist

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    9,822
    I'm with Levite here.

    Really though, a mezuzah is not even a large item. I've been in homes with them and simply passed them by without little notice. Even in one of the apartments my older brother lived in (he had a roommate who was Jewish), I never noticed the mezuzah until quite a few times of passing it by.

    So I really don't see why anyone would have been up set with this.
     
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