Many years ago when we first moved to the Springs, I was out for a walk. I saw this bumper sticker: “Militant agnostic, I don’t know and neither do you.” The car and the agnostic are long gone, yet the line stays with me.
My Sicilian mom was a devout Catholic. My sisters and I attended mass every Sunday and holy day, went to catechism, confessed, did penance, were supposedly forgiven and now worthy of receiving the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Today, as old ladies, we all pretty much follow the simple line as stated by militant agnostic.
You may ask why I am writing about religion or lack of it. Two words, Lefever/Mattson. I began my involvement with the advocacy group Wake Up Sonoma! because of the specter of someone with static religious beliefs and vast sums of money buying up the Sonoma Valley.
For me, it began with Sonoma County partnering with Lefever/Mattson to dig a parking garage in the middle of the Springs. Based on Lefever/ Mattson’s track record I thought it would be a giant hole in the ground for years.
In the past few months Wake Up Sonoma! has been focusing on the massive buying of property and businesses, letting many properties sit neglected, transferring properties between their numerous businesses and LLCs, selling fractions of properties, mechanic’s and tax liens, and delinquent property taxes.
But underlying this massive buying spree there are reasons beyond monetary and economic concerns. Many will say that I am reading too much into this, that this is just some deep pocket investors buying up undervalued real estate.
In many ways the Sonoma Valley is a microcosm of our country. Our views are split on the necessity of religion in our laws and our schools. In a true democracy, that guarantees equal rights for all, religious beliefs should play no part. Here in California and across the country we see religion creeping into our laws and school systems, taking away the equal rights of LGBTQ+ people, women and people of color. Though some will call this blasphemy, even children and teenagers deserve equal rights. They also deserve the freedom to learn of a world beyond their parent’s beliefs.
I believe those of us who want to protect equal rights for all must shift our attention from the massive acquisition of property by Lefever/Mattson to where this money comes from and where profits from their businesses are going to. It is time to find out why Pastor Mayer is here to do “church planting,” it is time for Lefever/Mattson to tell us their “master plan”, it is time for a commercial property vacancy tax on property that sits for years, and it is time for us get the word out to locals and tourists not to spend money at Lefever/Mattson owned and operated businesses.
It is my hope that Wake UP Sonoma! will grow and grow and those of us that believe in equal rights will work together to insure that the Sonoma Valley does not become another Redding, where someone’s religion governs what is taught in our schools and the actions of our local governments. I do not think I am wrong in believing the majority of Sonomans support equal rights for all.