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Christian Center Stirs Passion on Both Sides

June 02, 2002

Re "Cypress OKs Seizure of Church Land," May 29:

Bravo to the Cypress City Council for not being bullied into a decision that would have hurt the citizens of Cypress. Cottonwood Christian Center bought the land at Walker Street and Katella Avenue knowing it was zoned for a shopping center. But the church leadership decided to ignore the law and, instead, tried to bully the city into letting it build a gigantic church.

From recent events in the Roman Catholic Church, we know that just because you hold a Bible in your hand doesn't mean you are a decent and honest person. Pastor Bayless Conley has sent out glossy fliers that go so far as to compare the situation to the Nazis. How could a man of God say that land ownership is comparable to the Nazis murdering 11 million people?

Cottonwood bused in people from around the state, but our Cypress City Council refused to budge. Always putting Cypress first, it stood united with most Cypress residents in our belief that a retail center with its tax-generating stores will help the city maintain its schools, fire services and other infrastructure. We have never been prouder to call ourselves Cypress citizens.

Marlena and Larry Howard

Cypress

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I want to thank our elected Cypress leaders for their strength and perseverance on the Cottonwood Christian Center issue. They have provided a unified, reasoned voice throughout the difficult proceedings. They are representing the best interests of the residents of Cypress and are not yielding to the loud voices of a special interest.

They have had the fortitude to withstand the propaganda campaign that Cottonwood has targeted against our city. I want to thank them for their tireless efforts to do the right thing for the majority and not bow to the coercion of an overly zealous minority. The battle is not yet won, but I have confidence that through our leaders' strength, the city will prevail.

Philip W. Luebben

Cypress

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Re "Church Lawsuits Aim to Sidestep Local Zoning Rules," May 19:

I have been a member of Cottonwood Christian Center for years and continue to support the construction of our new church with my hard-earned money. I strongly disagree with Cypress' decision to use eminent domain to take the land that the church bought at the corner of Katella Avenue and Walker Street for the purpose of building a new worship and community center.

It is very wrong for the Cypress City Council to take Cottonwood Christian Center's land (or anyone's land, for that matter) and give it to a developer. Private property ownership and religious freedom are fundamental rights upon which our country was founded.

The city's use of the eminent domain procedures violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which is intended to protect churches from land use discrimination. I am asking Cypress to change its decision to seize Cottonwood's land and to make Cypress known again as a community with strong family values and a rich faith tradition.

Elizabeth Rodier

Los Alamitos

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Re "When Zoning Overrides Freedom of Religion," Letters, May 23: Have we gone too far? I have religious beliefs, but why is it that every time there is an issue, freedom of speech surfaces and someone has an amendment to fall back on? As I travel around Torrance, I see a church on about every corner, so to say that cities are telling the churches to get out of town is not a true statement.

Do we need that many churches? Do they pay taxes on their property? It's like a turf war. Why build a church next to a racetrack? What's next--the racetrack is exposing kids to betting, so we might as well close it too? Will the churches decide that we don't need a racetrack? I say bring on Costco and other stores that will add value to Cypress. The Cottonwood saga is getting old. Let them rent space in the store, like the banks do.

Gwen Hageman

Torrance

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The city is not only trying to prevent Cottonwood Christian Center from using its property, it also is trying to lower the appraised value of the land and pay millions of dollars less than the land is worth. Under the federal and state constitutions, governments cannot take private property, except for public use. And when they do, the owner is supposed to be justly compensated. Cypress is in gross violation of the law and is morally wrong. The city is being labeled by critics as a church-hating center of religious intolerance. Christians throughout the United States are rallying on this issue.

Cheryl Petrucelli

Torrance

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