Out of Control Policy Blog

Is Wal-Mart spiritually damaging?

Its been called a superpredator that uses slave labor. Its been likened to crack cocaine and cancer. Now the Beast from Bentonville is offending Jesuits, or more specifically, the lawyer who sort of claims to speak for them:

    A group of residents trying to prevent a Wal-Mart from opening in Guelph argued the store would be an affront to a nearby Jesuit retreat whose teachings were against materialism and consumerism.

    "They're trying to teach people that there's another way of life," said Eric Gillespie, a lawyer representing Residents for Sustainable Development. "Then you put what, to them, is one of the biggest symbols of consumerism right where they can see it."

    The group is making its case before the Ontario Court of Appeal. It wants to have overturned a decision last year by the Ontario Municipal Board to allow a Wal-Mart to be built near the 93-year-old Ignatius Jesuit Centre, which sits on 259 hectares.

    In making its decision, the OMB considered the "physical impacts" " such as noise, light or environmental pollution " and not the spiritual damage, said Gillespie.

    "The non-physical intangibles would be affected in a very, very significant way," he said.

    The Wal-Mart wouldn't be visible from every trail along the property, however, there is a greater principal at issue, said Gillespie.

    "Ultimately, religious freedoms are protected by not letting them become eroded," said Gillespie. "Very rarely do religious freedoms get taken away in one fell swoop. It happens in small increments."

Article here.

Gillespie and his group are obviously very upset, but I wonder what the Jesuits have to say about this.

Of course, its not the first time sprawl critics have invoked religion to make their case. What would Jesus drive? Apparently, not one of those sprawl-mobiles:

    one preacher even embarked on a nationwide publicity tour in which he suggested that Jesus would most certainly not drive an SUV.

My article, Oui, Oui SUV, is here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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