Religion: The Acne of Democracy
...And God Throws the Dart: 'Stafford?! Where the Hell? Very Well. Hilarious!'
The last brick left in "the wall of separation between church and state" that religious nuts care about is the exemption from taxation for churches. Now a small town in Texas is being beaten to death with that brick.
Leonard Scarcella is the mayor of Stafford, Texas, just outside of Houston. He is desperate for the sweet relief of secular commerce.
"Our city has an excessive number of churches," he sighs.
Somehow Stafford has managed to stuff 51 religious institutions into only 7 square miles. Now they are left with only 300 more acres to develop some sort of a tax base.
"With federal laws, you can't just say, 'We're not going to have any more churches,'" Scarcella said. "We respect the Constitution, but 51 of anything is too much."
Making matters worse for the town's budgeting is the absence of a property tax.
"It's thrown everything out of balance, plus providing zero revenue. Somebody's got to pay for police, fire and schools," City Councilman Cecil Willis said.
With the exception of Jews, you can find nearly every manner of worshipper in Stafford. Buddhists, Muslims, Chinese Baptists, Filipino Baptists, Spanish-speaking Baptists, and "every other variety of Christian you can imagine" call Stafford home says Scarcella.
What's more puzzling is that these houses of the holy aren't even serving the people of Stafford; most worshippers are coming from surrounding towns.
Willis has started asking applicants "Why Stafford?"
"Every one of them said they prayed about it, and God said to come here," he said. "I can't compete with that, so here we are."