As most of you know by now, Seekers Temple has been forced out of Beebe, AR.
I know I have told a lot of you that I will give detales here, but I am sorry to say that so far my level of depression over the whole thing has kept me from writting about it...
I will do that update before the end of Sep if I can bring myself to deal with even saying what needs to be said.
May the gods bless you all for caring.
2014 Oct 2
Went to court.
Judge gave me $2540 and 20 days.
We are appealing.
The city can not give me a jury trial, so I pled no contest and am taking it to circut court.
2014 Aug 25
After a week of blocking our drive to harass our temple, John Hays has had the steaks pulled up.
2014 Aug 22
We have been told by our lawyer that we may remove the fence that John Hays, who owns the empty lot next door and the Shelter Insurance in Beebe, has placed accross our drive.
2014 Aug 18
And the City
makes a move!!!!
As I type this, there is a man putting up a fence that completely blocks the drive of Seekers Temple.
He claims to own the property next door and says he is 'Protecting his property from us'. He says if we try to move them, he will 'kick our ass'.
He made an aggressive move toward me and said he is not afraid of us, so I called the police.
The police say it is a Civil matter and they can do nothing.
If you are coming tonight, be aware of this blockage with 12'' mettle stakes that would not be good for a tire.
We are NOT giving up!
We have gotten lots of emails and we thank you for every single one.
it is time Mayor Micheal G. Robertson heard the same?
His office may be contacted at 501-882-6295, FAXED at 501-882-8140 and Emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
No threats please, just tell him that we have the right to exist and are not going away.
part of a public service offered by Seekers Temple, we drive two hours to visit and teach prisoners.
As a result of the persecution and harassment by the city of Beebe and by the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church which led to the arrest of our High Priest, our ability to enter the prison has been denied.
This has left the inmates in this prison without teachings and without religious representation.
We are reviewing other avenues to help them during their incarceration, but until this is resolved, we are unable to carry on with our normal responsibilities to these inmates.
We are very saddened by this news and by the ripple effect the actions of the city and the church are having.
Feel free to call the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church and ask them to drop there charges against our High Priest so that Seekers Temple can continue helping these inmates. Their number is 501-247-5257.
The City Hall
meeting consisted of an Unconstitutional prayer, a few lies from the Mayor, some Pass the Buck and ended with yet another shell game....
But, the crowd of people who showed to support us was impressive and we are grateful and humbled by it.
Thank you to KARK, Prairie Land Pagan Radio, Blog Talk Radio, Sacred Circle Temple, The Southern Delta Church of Wicca, Silver Dragon, Aranon C'ean, and EVERY single person who came out to stand with us.
We want to also say think you to ALL of you who have called and written and donated to show your support.
We are not giving up!
I have been a Pagan Priest since 1985. I am also a disabled vet from the U.S. Army and a stay-at-home father. My wife is also a Pagan Priest. We opened Seekers Temple in 2008 Dec 13. We were in operation in El Paso, AR. until 2013 Jan, when we moved to Beebe, AR. The Pagans of Beebe, AR. had asked us to move here, as it is a more public location, making it more convenient for a great deal of Arkansas Pagans to find.
We spent nine months in negotiations for our house (2013 June - 2014 Mar). It has a building which is of the size and location we needed to move our temple and store into. During this time, we talked to Mayor Mike Robertson about our intent to move our church in that building. The mayor was very nice to us and welcomed us and even gave us useful information, such as the local utilities we would need to contact. He even sold us three couches from his furniture store to put in the new home.
About the last week of Jan, we noticed the town had a nice park where we could hold our annual event, Arkansas Pagan Pride (now in its 12th year). We ask the town parks manager about renting it. He was very helpful, like everyone else, and told us they rent the whole park for the weekend to the Boy Scouts for $600. Since we only needed a small part of it for one day, he said that price could come way down for us. We told him that our event involved the vending of items and we needed to know the rules on knives and herbs. Since he didn’t seem to understand why a church would have knives and herbs, we pointed out our web page (www.SeekersTemple.com) and ask him to let us know if there was anything that would not be allowed in the park.
Until that time, we had talked about our church but it had not come up that we were a Pagan church. Once they saw the site, the city told us they could not rent the ballpark to us unless we would pay them $600 for one pavilion for one day (the rate they charge for the whole park for the whole weekend to others) and we would have to agree not to vend anything (knowing this was part of the event). So we declined the park.
Before we could even get unpacked, get a permit and put a sign out, the city delivered a Cease and Desist notice and told us we must shut down all aspects of Seekers Temple. We ask how they could shut us down when we had not opened and what we had done to cause this and the officer said: “Well, you were going to open, and now you’re not”. We were also given a Denial for a Permit to open, even though we had not yet applied for it.
We ask for and was granted a meeting with the mayor. As he had encouraged us with our church before, we felt there must be some misunderstanding. During this meeting, the mayor told us we would not be opening a Pagan anything in his town. When we told him we wanted to talk to the town council about this, he told us that if we showed our face at the town meeting, we would not be on the docket and we would not be heard. We told the mayor that this seemed like Religious Persecution and he responded with “I don’t care, it’s not going to happen”. (We later found that he is on record at ’Having God’s back’ and being against anything not Christian. This leads us to ask if he can truly represent a town fairly).
Mayor Robertson said that we were not zoned for a church or business, so we pointed out two churches across the street. He said that our side of the street is not zoned for it, so we pointed out the commercial property for sale next to us and a business out of a barn next to that and a business out of a house next to that (run by our alderman). He said that the business zone ends at our property and was not allowed from there on down, so we pointed out a business next to us on the other side, run out of a home. He said that in Beebe, they zone individual property and ours was not zoned for it, so we ask what we had to do to get it re-zoned. He said we do not have enough parking, so we pointed out that we have more parking than some of the restaurants in town and much more than the other businesses run out of homes. He said there was no way we were having our church there, so we ask about just opening the store and keeping our group as a small in-house meeting of friends. He admitted that he can not stop us from having friends over, but that he would be watching and he would break it up if we had too many people over (true to his word, police sit and watch our house often). He said we would have to speak with the city attorney about opening a store and what we could have in it and he would have that person call us (this never happened) and that was the end of our meeting. We have asked many times since then, but he has not granted us another meeting.
On 2014 Mar 14 we decided to go to City Hall and officially ask for the permit.
We had been turned down without even applying, but we thought we would officially apply anyway. The secretary called the mayor and said on the phone “He is standing right here in front of me”. And after a few moments of listening to him, she hung up and told me the mayor said: “We will not be granting any permit of any kind to you”. We were then informed (though they would not put it in writing) that we could not have any application, that there would be no permit of any kind for us and that we could not speak with the city attorney as previously promised. We were convinced by this that we had a clear case of Religious Persecution. We called the FBI, who told us that the City obstructing us was a Civil matter and they could not get involved.
After that, we started getting visits from the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church from across the street. They gave us pamphlets and invited us to come worship at their church.
Surprised they had somehow missed the van, which clearly states
Pagan Temple and Store
We pointed it out to them and explained that we were Pagan and would not be interested in their church. The next time they came, we insisted that they not come over again with this already declined invitation. The last time they came, the person who we would later find to be Bishop John Scheel began to warn us of the ’evil trickery of the Pagan Devil’ and how it would be best if we came to the church. At this, I got insistent that we have no interest in his church and began to talk about the fact that we don’t have a ’devil’ nor do we believe in ’evil’. Mr. Scheel began, in a military style to say “Yes Sir!” very loudly. Being disabled from the Army, this insulted me, so I closed the door in his face.
The Lighthouse Pentecostal Church then built a working lighthouse on their front lawn and began beaming a spotlight across our house every FIVE seconds (that is the time it takes to spin around and hit us again. This was not only annoying to my wife, and causing me nightmares, as I suffer from PTSD, but also began disturbing the sleep of our children (four-year-old Isis and one-year-old Bertram IV). Isis would come into our room and tell us that someone is shining a light in her window.
I went to the church and was given the number, which I called about the light. They would raise the beam for a day or two, but still hit our trees and light up our house, and then they would lower it again. I would call and they would raise it for a few days and then lower it again. This went on for weeks and then they began to just ignore our complaints. So, I went to the church and ask for a meeting with the elders. They ignored us.
On 2014 May 21, as the members of the church were gathering, I walked into the church and ask for there attention. I told them what was going on and how the Pastor and the Elders were ignoring our pleas. I asserted that we did not believe they would all approve of what was going on and ask for their help in talking to their church leaders about not harassing us. I left the church and went home in the hopes of having a meeting with some of the members and finding a solution. Instead of having members show up, I was asked to come out of my home by three police officers and told we were no longer welcome at the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church. The officers told me I would have to take the matter to the courts and they left. I have not been over there since.
The next week, to the day, 2014 May 28, two officers came and arrested me for Disorderly Conduct and Harassing Communications. This had been filled by Jason E. Scheel and John Scheel. The City must have informed Mr. Scheel that they were coming to arrest me as is evident by his sitting in a car across the street watching me be arrested. We had to pay $320 to get me out of jail with a plea date of July 9.
We called the FBI again and were told now that they have had me arrested, a file could be started. I am told by the Prosecutor that I could face up to $2,000 in fines and a year in jail for calling the church (though I had been given the number) and going onto church property and asking them to stop harassing us with the light (though I had been invited). The Prosecutor also tells me that he will not file against the church leaders for coming to our temple and for calling us. Somehow, when they do it, there is no crime.
The Lighthouse Pentecostal Church continues to make my home and temple look like a prison camp with the spotlight coming over our heads every five seconds, but the police tell us they don’t have a disturbing the peace law in the town of Beebe, AR. and we can not stop them from shining the spotlight. Both our temple and our family are being harassed in this manner in a clear effort to remove us from the town of Beebe and we are asking for any help we can get.
We simply want to complete the move of Seekers Temple to the town of Beebe, AR. and to be allowed to worship in peace.
We are asking that people donate to Seekers Temple by mail or at PayPal account SeekersTemple@yahoo.com by clicking the button below and/or write your letter of support in opening our temple in Beebe, AR. and send it to the
City of Beebe
321 North Elm Street
Beebe, AR. 72012
Thank you for your time and for any help you can be to Seekers Temple,
Bert and Felicia
High Priest and Priestess of
608 E. DeWitt Henry Dr.
Beebe, AR. 72012
(Please note our change of address:
2629 Hoffmeyer Rd.
Florence, SC. 29501)
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