Mayor: Pagan church controversy in Beebe has nothing to do with religion

Inside the Beebe City Council hangs the 10 Commandments, the first being 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' A group of pagan residents says that's being strictly enforced upon them by the community and city leaders. Pagan church leader of the "Seekers Temple," Bert Dahl says the Christian church across the street constructed its lighthouse to shine into his place of worship. "They are using their lighthouse beam as a weapon against us," Dahl said. Dahl says after repeated calls to meet with the congregation leaders about the lighthouse, he went into the church before a service and spoke to their congregation, uninvited. That resulted in his arrest for disorderly conduct and a no contact order with the church. It's just the latest feud the pagan church has had with this community. Dahl says their problems began when they purchased a residential property with the intention of turning it into a church and a pagan supply store. He says their plans were halted once the mayor found out they are pagan. "People like the mayor like to do things their own way and run things their own way and ignore the constitution," Dahl said. But the mayor says it has nothing to do with religion and the church wants special zoning no one else has. He says he welcomes them in the community and they have every right to have a church and a store, but they must adhere to the same codes everyone else does. "He would have to comply with the building codes, the Arkansas fire code, the zoning codes, the paving. All of those things and he couldn't live there. It can't be a dwelling and storefront and a church," said Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson. Robertson said since this story got out, he's received many emails from the pagan community all over the country, including threats. "These are the laws and so all he has to do is comply with them. He can be issued a church. He can be issued a business. Just not in the manner, he can't have a home, a business and a church in a dwelling," Robertson said. Dahl says he believes his situation would be different if they were a Christian church, but Robertson says he recently denied a Church of Christ church from meeting in a local home and they had to find a rental building up to code and in the right zone while they construct a new church.