Chicago has been oppressing the people! They’ve installed some mechanical deviltry called parking meters on the street, forcing people who want to drive their multiton iron chariots (an offense unto god right there) into the city and then park them somewhere to pay for the privilege. Everyone is annoyed by parking meters, but guess who is whining the loudest? The churches, of course.
“I think it’s interfering with my religious activity,” said the Rev. Webb Evans, 96, who keeps an office at Israel Methodist Community Church. “We should have the freedom to go to church without having to pay a meter five or six feet in front of the door.”
Yes? And others should be free to go into a bar without paying a meter. Or into a restaurant. Or into a store. Those at least bring some economic gain into a community. But churches? They already get to squat on valuable property without paying taxes, and now they want the city to subsidize the parking of their flocks? What they’re really complaining about is that the city is fleecing the flock a little bit before the priests can get their hands in their pockets.
And this is hilarious:
“We’re not asking for special privileges,” said the Rev. Philip Blackwell, pastor of First United Methodist Church at Chicago Temple. “We just happen to be religious institutions.”
No, special privileges is precisely what they are asking for: they are insisting that the activity of their precious institution is more valuable or more worthy than that of other businesses and residences in the area, and want a special dispensation so their clientele can use a public resource for free.
I say, charge ’em extra.
I have a special antipathy to this kind of demand from churches. I grew up in a neighborhood where our house was sandwiched between two churches, the Catholic and the Lutheran. We were afflicted constantly by the Lutheran church’s insistence on playing hymns on one of those ghastly electronic carillons every hour and half hour…and since we were right across the street and they played them LOUD, all conversation, music, and TV in our house got regularly drowned out. And then on Sundays, the neighborhood would be choked with cars parked everywhere.
(Which we turned into a bonus, actually: it was amazing how many people would come out of a church service with bills stuffed into their pockets, which would spill unnoticed onto the ground when they pulled out their car keys. We kids would head out right after services to cruise the empty parking spaces, looking for loot.)
Another gripe is that the churches turned our town into a wasteland. Parking was such an issue that they bought up whole blocks, razed everything on them, and paved them over…including my childhood home. If you’re ever in Kent, Washington, go to the corner of 2nd and Titus streets where I lived, and behold what was once a lively neighborhood, now a desert of asphalt — my house was on the northeast corner of what is now the Catholic church’s parking lot. Don’t go on the hour, unless you’re really fond of “Onward Christian Soldiers.”