BEEBE, Ark., June 18 (UPI) -- A Pagan high priest is accusing his local Arkansas town of forcing him to stop construction of a temple only after learning it was not Christian.
High priest Bertram Dahl said Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson granted Dahl the go-ahead to build the house of worship, but had a change of heart when it was brought to his attention that the temple would be Pagan, citing zoning issues.
"When they knew we were going to open a church, it wasn't an issue," Dahl said. "We explained to [the mayor] the house had a building that we could open the church in, and he had no problem."
Dahl claims that when the city learned he was not Christian, they began institutionally persecuting him.
"We were basically given a cease and desist you know -- shut down. We hadn't even unpacked. We aren't even open -- how are we getting this."
In 2010, Robertson publicly stated that he believes "government has allowed non-believers far too many liberties taking God out of our daily lives."
City Attorney Barrett Rogers says Dahl's denial was just a matter of paperwork, telling local media outlet KARK, "Whatever the zoning code said is allowed is allowed."
The zoning code Rogers referred to allows for places of worship to be built in residential areas such as Dahl's, providing a permit is granted.
"I haven't seen any of that [permit application] paperwork. My understanding is he has not asked to be given the paperwork," Rogers claimed. "Had he asked for the paperwork it would have been provided."
Dahl says when he requested the necessary paperwork he was denied and told it would not be approved anyway. His efforts to reach out to his local alderman fell short. When local reporters contacted the alderman to ask why he did not stand up for his constituent, he said on the record, "That man's God is not my God."