The Wild Hunt has frequently reported on this issue, and posted a good overview at the end of august:
"The legal issue at hand is if the Maetreum uses its property primarily for religious purposes, which would exempt them from paying property taxes. The Town of Catskill says the group is an “illegitimate religion” and is using the property for residential, rather than religious uses. The Maetreum says the town doesn’t want to “open the floodgates” to other nonprofit groups claiming tax exemptions which deprives the town of tax revenue.
Despite the unanimous decision in 2013 by a three judge panel of the Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court favorable to the Maetreum, the Town of Catskill took the unusual step of appealing the ruling to the New York State Court of Appeals. A ruling by the Court of Appeals is expected later this Fall and the Maetrum expects it to uphold the previous decision that the Maetreum is a religious nonprofit and as such is exempt from paying property taxes. Catskill also recently filed charges against the Maetreum for refusing to allow a municipal inspection to look for code violations and a trial is now scheduled for late September. The Maetreum, in an effort to preserve their property rights while the September trail takes place, filed suit against the town’s attempt to use property codes to condemn and foreclose on the property in the Greene County Supreme Court of New York.
So far the Maestreum has paid out more than $65,000 in legal fees. The Town of Catskill, the Maestreum estimates, has spent hundreds of thousands. But the town’s deep pockets, Rev. Mother Cathryn Platine says, is how the town plans to win despite their losses in the courtroom, “Rather than being over, we now find ourselves in three legal actions at once. The town dragged the original two legal actions out for years with multiple bullshit motions and now this. The town attorney is known for this tactic against non-profits all over the state. To make it too expensive to keep fighting them.”
The town may finally be successful. If the Maetreum can’t raise $10,000 in the next few weeks to cover legal fees for the appeal, the Pagan convent may close."
The Maetrum is a Neo-Pagan organisation. It has been running since 1997 and has developed a full theology and method of practice. Their theology starts from the simplest basis:
"That the Divine Feminine principle is the basis of the universe. That all of us, all that we encounter is Her in the aggregate. We are all the Great Mother learning about Herself. From this simple beginning springs our organizational models, our rituals, the principles of what we call Wholistic Feminism, our mission of charitable outreach and indeed the way we, as Cybelines, live our lives. We are sometimes called the 'scholarly Cybelines' because we have invested many years of strict historical research in order to embrace the essence of what proved to be literally the oldest surviving religion in the world. We embraced the essence and then stepped away from "Pagan Reconstructism" by bringing those essences into the modern world. We re-introduced to the world a model for Pagan Monasticism. We've recovered long believed lost principles, our drumming patterns, ritual practices and corrected history. The world centre of our Religion is in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York at the foot of the Kaaterskill Clove. Unlike many neo-Pagan groups, we have a "horizontal" organization, our Priestesses all considered equals but also expected to live our religion, dedicate themselves to a live of charitable works and ministry to others according to their strengths. We welcome all to our services and to visit our first Phrygianum of the modern era. We do not require anyone to renounce anything to join us."
This organisation is in danger of going bankrupt, and we would like to help prevent this from happening. You can now donate to Pandora's Kharis at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking the 'donate' button to the side. Thank you in advance for any amount you can spare. It will matter. The deadline to donate is 26 September, 2014.