Illegal Church Parking June 23, 2007

Illegal Church Parking

The Chicago Reader reports on a phenomenon going on in the city: illegal church parking.

There’s a whole back story about how the parking situation is hurting the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (CBF), which had some great uses for the roads in questions.

But here’s the part that involves the churches…

… signs make it clear that no parking is allowed at any time in the fast inside lanes of the boulevards—not for churchgoers or anybody else. But on Sunday those signs are blatantly ignored and the righthand lanes are clogged with parked cars. “Basically, they’re parking illegally,” says Alderman [Rey] Colon. “I call it the pray-and-park policy. It’s a courtesy that is provided to the churches, sort of informally. I’ve been here since ’67 and it’s always been in place, and I’m not gonna be the one to break the cycle.”

A pastor at Armitage Baptist Church (whose visitors violate the parking laws) has this to say:

Antonio Gomez knows his parishioners aren’t parking legally on the boulevards, but he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. “Sometimes we get ticketed and we go to the police station and we explain we’re from the church, and they say, ‘It’s OK, just give us the tickets back,’” he said. “I don’t know if you can call it fair or not fair. We as a church are very involved in the community. It’s just an agreement that we have.”

An illegal, unwritten agreement.

And as the alderman hints at, it would be political suicide to go against the church on this matter.

[tags]atheist, atheism, Chicago Reader, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, Rey Colon, Armitage Baptist Church, Antonio Gomez[/tags]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Expecting churchgoers to obey the law sounds like it might be asking too much. The part about it being political suicide to go against the church sounds like we are back in the Dark Ages and certainly not in modern America, doesn’t it?

  • Oh, I used to live near a church in England and it seemed like the car-driving members of the congregation were unable to follow basic road safety laws. Like indicating.

  • Lee

    So… to be a Chrispie means to be above the law when it comes to a city’s local ordinances, right? Hmmmm…. I wonder if an atheist group could protest by parking illegally in high numbers on a planned day and time in order to have an organized ‘not praying’ day protest?

  • Jen

    I just want to shake these people.

    Gomez says only a third of Armitage Baptist’s congregation lives in Logan Square: its parishioners travel from as far away as Gary and Milwaukee and have enough parking problems already

    So are they encouraging these local 1/3rd of thier church-goers to walk or take local transportation? Chicago transit, for all its budget problems, is pretty damn useful. I bet there are buses or els that go right by these churches.

    The practical problem of parking, says the pastor, still must be solved.

    Why not have their services later in the day or on Saturday nights? I mean, really, would it kill people to change their schedules to make Chicago a better place, with more culture and less polution? Isn’t that part of being part of the community?

    Lucy Gomez says another option, one that the pastor supports, would let parishioners keep parking in one of the boulevards’ four central lanes and squeeze Sunday Parkways into the others.

    Come on, people, aren’t these church goers demanding a lot- change the time, change the route, and oh yeah, we are still going to be assholes.

  • Interesting discussion!

    The church I attend is located in a residential neighborhood, and is growing at an overwhelming pace, currently attracting about 1,000 people to 5 services each weekend. There is no parking lot per se, and everyone must park on the streets near neighboring homes.

    I’m told that complaints have been received from the neighbors about cars blocking driveways on Saturday night and Sunday morning. In response, the church has not made threats nor gone to city officials to ask for exceptions to the rules. Instead, they have made announcements asking for cooperation in being respectful to the neighbors and are, I understand, preparing a video – no doubt humorous and straight to the point, if it is like other presentations the church has made – designed to encourage attenders to park properly and not violate the property rights of residents.

    Anger and frustration at those who think they are above the law is justified, but it seems generalizations are not.

  • DC faced a similar problem, with church-goers double-parking in front of local residents. I haven’t heard anything about it lately, so I’m not sure it’s still an issue, but it seemed pretty ridiculous that the church folk felt justified in parking people in for an hour or two every Sunday morning. Search DCist for “church parking” for more articles.

  • They have a grandfathered in right to park. Sunday is a slow traffic day. ATheists, rather than protest, why not get together and start and run a shelter for the homeless, Christians have millions of shelters all over the world that we pay for a run….stop hating us so much andgo and do some good for a change…..OH, remember, all COMMINISTS are ATHEISTS and when they win and run a conntry, millions die, so far about 170 MILLION in the last 100 years…..

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