Property Rights. Fact or Fiction?

Is your property really yours? Well, apparently it’s not. Sure, you paid for it, but is that all it takes for it to be yours? In this nation, and especially in southwest Georgia, it doesn’t seem to be the case at all.

Take, for example, Connections Church. They are trying to move into a new location in the Village Green Shopping Center on Dawson Road in Albany. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? Well, apparently it is. Also located in this same shopping center is Charlie B’s, a well known Albany bar. So, what’s surprising about a church having an issue with a bar? Nothing…except Connections doesn’t have any issues with Charlie B’s.

Instead, the problem arises at the Planning Commission level. Even after the City explains the exception to the rules that create a buffer between establishments that serve alcohol and churches, which basically lays out that it’s OK for Connections to be there, the members of the Planning Commission take issue with the idea of a bar being close to the church. Eventually, it passes, but just barely. Now, it goes before the City Commission for approval.

What’s the real problem is that a church, of all groups, is having this hard a time establishing a new location. We have someone who wants to occupy a vacant building, and a landlord who wishes to rent this space to a potential tenant. But, instead of this business transaction taking place, Connections Church has to jump through a set of hoops that would make Siegfried & Roy queasy.

Liberty can not exist without property rights, yet this case clearly shows that we really have none. The owner of Village Green isn’t free to rent his property to whomever he wishes, and apparently Connections Church isn’t free to move where ever they wish. Instead, ordinances are in place to keep the “sinful” activity of drinking away from the houses of the Lord. These ordinances seem to disregard completely that a significant number of denominations have no issues with alcohol, including the Catholic, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches (PCUSA) as well as a number of non-denominational churches in town.

Further, the road blocks that are being thrown up are, in my opinion, an attack on the First Amendment. By establishing laws that favor one denomination, it’s a violation of the Establishment clause regarding religion since it favors the beliefs of some Christian groups over other religious groups.

I’m asking everyone in Albany to contact their City Commissioners and ask them approve of Connections application. It is time we take back our liberties, especially in regards to where churches set up and who they can choose to have as neighbors.

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