Maggie Gallagher

What is amazing to me, in looking over the record, is the absolute arrogance of the Cypress aristocracy. Even after Judge Carter's stinging reproach, Cypress Councilman Tim Keenan had the nerve to tell the Los Angeles Times that the council hasn't gotten enough credit for its big-hearted willingness to "take the church into our community, and we are willing to take more than 18 acres off our tax rolls." Apparently he think the right of Americans to worship and associate freely is some magnanimous dispensation granted by the gods of the local zoning board.

Councilmember Anna Piercy also has had problems seeing the light. She told the News-Enterprise in a May 15 story, "They're waging a holy war trying to make it a religious issue, and it's not that." You are telling a church it cannot worship on its own land and that is not a religious issue? "We just don't want them taking our prime development land," she explained. Whose prime development land, Ms. Piercy? This mind-set resonated with at least one Cypress citizen who wrote to the News-Enterprise: "Cypress has more than enough churches now. ... I'm behind you 100 percent. Don't even let that church move into our city."

I am sure most citizens of Cypress reject the notion that local politicians have the right to control what churches are "allowed" into any American city. Last time I checked the Constitution, religious liberty was a civil right, as fundamental as free speech to a free society (which is why the right is part of our very First Amendment).

Otherwise the rule in too many Cypresses apparently would be: The Lord giveth, and Costco taketh away.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.