When you think of religious groups in New Braunfels, it’s unlikely that the Buddhists come to mind, but a group of Buddhists have a temple across the Guadalupe County line — although there’s a question about whether it’ll be able to stay there.
That’s because the temple is at the center of a court battle brought by a neighbor who says the temple and the monks aren’t following the rules of the small five-lot subdivision.
Other neighbors in the area, including those far closer to the temple, have no issue with the temple, describing the people there as humble, kind, quiet and respectful.
It sounds like the kind of neighbor that most would welcome with open arms.
The man bringing the suit is arguing that he will “suffer irreparable harm … as the property value in the entire subdivision may be reduced by the large-scale religious … use of the property.”
But in a deposition he hasn’t been able to show any such harm with the continued rise in property values — just a personal belief that the Buddhists will make his property worth less.
There are times when religious uses of property might conflict in a harmful matter with residential uses, but the subdivision already allows other than residential uses — making exceptions for both agricultural and commercial use.
Given those allowances, it’s difficult to see when the temple or its residents would be operating outside the same type of activities that would fit into those two pre-existing niches.
The freedom to practice one’s faith is a sacred one in the United States, and if those in the temple can do so without causing a disturbance to their neighbors, they should be allowed to continue to do so.