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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Raritan, a town where almost everyone is welcome

There’s an old church downtown – it used to be a place of Christian worship, slowly declining in the past few years. It’s pretty, all white, looks like a poster (if you don’t include surrounding multi-family homes and overgrown bushes into the shot).

The other day, trolling for ice cream with zaiki and Kevin, I found that it’s not so white anymore – the columns and trim had been painted orange, which gives it a rather festive flair. Turns out, the building has been sold – the former congregation was slowly dying off and dwindled to 15 members.
Here http://www.nj.com/messenger-gazette/index.ssf/2011/08/hindus_orange_columns_on_former_white_church_in_raritan_stir_controversy.html you’ll find the complete coverage of the scandalous change of ownership and the circumstances of the sale. Also included is the take of the local businessman who has made a handsome profit on it. Including the exact figures he bought and sold it for was an especially nice touch, thank you nj.com, keeping it classy as always!

For those with the slow interwebs connection or lack of interest, the church building has been sold to a Hindu sect. Yes, a conservative Italian town with 2 Catholic churches will have a Hindu temple smacked right in its center. Oh yeah, and the sect is looking for a construction permit to build headquarters for the priests in the backyard of the church.

Tell me, is this newsworthy? Perhaps what makes it so is the reaction of the local residents – according to a person quoted in the article, the locals haven’t been very nice to the newcomers, no further details provided other than one or two grumbling comments from the said locals.

The article on nj.com caught my attention because my girls really like this building – when we were walking by, Maya immediately beelined for it and proclaimed it “Maya’s tower”. We played on the front steps for about 30 minutes. I think what attracted her to it were those orange columns. So at least one resident approves.

There’s a whole troth of possibilities for social commentary here, but I won’t go into that. I’m not sure how I feel about the change either. The mentality of the small working class town clandestinely seeped into me over the decade that I’ve lived here. The only thing I’m hoping for as a foodie is that new residents will bring some good Indian food with them.

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