On the final day, near O'Hare airport…

It's well known the city of Chicago is trying to keep us down, with their noise violation tickets and anti-public-urination ordinances, but did you realize Mayor Daley is trying to fuck with your chances on the day of The Rapture? For quite some time, Chicago has been trying to add runways to its giant airport O'Hare. Part of where they are supposed to be built is over St. Johannes Cemetery. The city has agreed to move all the remains and monuments located there to other locations and cover all of the costs.

Just as it looked like the bulldozers were ready to go, another court order showed up demanding a halt. Here's the tribune's coverage (free reg required):

In their filing, the attorneys said the city's plan to relocate more than 1,300 graves in St. Johannes Cemetery violates a federal law designed to protect religious freedom…The opponents argued that any removal "of the remains of a Christian once he or she is committed to the sanctified final resting spot [could prevent] the physical resurrection of his or her body on the Day of Resurrection."

At first I thought this was a lawyer's trick so cynical it was compellingly beautiful (like some sort of jaded rose), but no, it's the true believers. From the Becket Fund (protecting the free expression of all religious traditions):

aside from the historical significance, the desecration of the cemetery would be a savage affront to the congregation's beliefs. The congregation believes that to remove the remains of their fellow believers from the place they have been laid at St. Johannes to await the day of resurrection would be a desecration of holy ground. Disturbance of the believers laid to rest is not something that they believe should ever happen other than at the direction of God himself on his appointed day of resurrection.

The funny part is, with the Left Behind series having sold more than 60 million copies in the United States, the defense will be a hundred times better off by not arguing about compelling interests, and instead findind a theologian or priest to get on the stand and say "Oh yes, if those graves are moved they can still definitely be resurrected on the final day."

At the end of the day, I'm sympathetic to the cemetery's argument. I hate seeing the old bulldozed over for the new and more profitable. But something about this latest lawsuit just screams of a cynical exploitation of the power of belief, and our deference to religion. For shame.

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2 Responses to “On the final day, near O'Hare airport…”

  1. Ed Says:

    Boy, I think I hear the sound of 4 AM bulldozers warming up.

    And the sound of Daley behind a microphone saying "What are you gonna do about it?" after they already dug the ground up.

  2. J. Dryden Says:

    The wonderful thing about such arguments is that they claim to be made out of an unswerving respect to an all-knowing, all-powerful God, yet simulataneously claim that God is a complete incompetent/moron: "Buh?! People not buried where Me thought they was?! What Me do now???" As with far too many organized religions, this one seems to feel that God just can't see the forest for the trees. Or the bodies for the runways, whatever.