Leaders of the United House of Prayer, a church in Washington, D.C., said that their religious rights would be infringed upon if the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) put bike paths on the road near their building.
They argued in a letter sent to the DDOT last month that the bike lane would eliminate a lane of traffic and prevent street parking, thereby placing “an extreme burden on the free exercise of religion” by hurting church members who want to worship at their building. So… persecution!
What’s sad is that the DDOT relented in a similar case, ultimately agreeing to making a bike path that could double as parking space (which isn’t ideal).
Ultimately, after a much-heated back-and-forth between the church, city and cycling advocates, the city agreed to make the bike lane unprotected in front of the church. The church was happy with the outcome, but cycling advocates warned that it could set a dangerous precedent for other churches and businesses that don’t want a bike lane in front of their establishments.
Dangerous precedent, indeed. That’s exactly what’s happening now.
In a big city where bike lanes are better for the environment and harder to come by, it’s ludicrous that one church gets to shut down an idea like this. People will adjust to the changes as they always do, and a bike lane isn’t creating some undue burden on Christians who want to worship. Worshipers will just have to get used to the new reality, whether they bike to church or park a little further away.
These Christians are whining about a common good and it’s especially galling because the church isn’t even paying taxes to help with street maintenance, unlike the taxpayers who want the bike lane.
Keep in mind that in San Francisco, church members who double park on the street don’t even get tickets. I imagine that happens in other places, too. How many perks are cities expected to provide churches?
Whether the eventual bike lane is protected or not, UHOP shouldn’t be able to get away with this complaint. This isn’t a burden on the free exercise of religion; it’s church leaders wanting special privileges they don’t deserve.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to everyone for the link)