Sex Therapy to Remain in West Sedona
Sedona, AZ (July 18, 2011) – At the July 12, 2011, meeting of the Sedona City Council an appeal of a decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission was heard. At issue was a conditional use permit (CUP) granted to a local organization on June 7, 2011. CUP’s are granted by the city on a regular basis so why is this news? The elephant in the room. The elephant is what people mutter under their breath about an organization called The Sedona Temple School of International Arts which who teach consciousness and sexuality as healing tools. The word Tantra is also whispered. They teach about SEX and using sex as a doorway to deeper states of consciousness and healing. Not your mainstream approach to mental and spiritual health. The temple has taken criticism since they set up shop in 2005 on Roadrunner Drive in West Sedona and their neighbors have not been pleased with what’s been happening in there: wild tantric sex parties, loud music, erotic dancing, public nudity, you call this education, and teaching? But this unfortunately is not education and teaching that conforms to some mainstream thinking. Sigmund Freud maintained that sexual expression, or the repression of sexuality, is the foundation of modern psychiatry and human behavior.
The Sedona Temple and School of Temple Arts cultivates sexuality and consciousness education and is a federally recognized 501 c 3 nonprofit organization. The question of what kind of church and what religious services are offered was raised by Appellant Ray Davis, who lives next door to the temple. “I need you to understand in no way am I opposed to any part of what they do, what their operation is, or what the church stands for although I didn’t hear them mention church, I keep hearing them mention temple. I’m not against anything they are doing. But I am totally 100% against forming a CUP for a church of this nature directly next door to me.”
The temple sought permission in June to continue to operate a church and counseling center at their location at 185 Roadrunner Drive in West Sedona after the city filed complaints that they were violating city land development codes about land uses. What prompted the investigation into what rules were being violated were several complaints from neighbors. The city wanted to shut down the temple. The temple maintained the position that they, as a federally recognized 501 (c)(3) religious organization, were not subject to some rules pertaining to zoning and that they were being harassed because of their spiritual beliefs and practices. Very sensitive area here, since similar churches have been shut down for their practices. Freedom of religion is a cornerstone of American democracy and there are cases on the books where government agencies have paid big fines for stepping on religious toes. The city walked softly around the religious elephant and approached the Temple on strictly zoning violations. The atmosphere in the council chambers was dense with religious fervor. Mayor Adams advised the audience with a stern procedural warning in anticipation of stirring the elephant with applause from the audience. No booing allowed.
The temple advertised and furnished short term rentals and provided educational opportunities without a CUP, contrary to the land development code. Homeowner Robert Nichols, also known as Baba Dez, was held responsible for the infractions, and he was subsequently arrested in May, 2011, for failing to appear and answer the charges of not having a conditional use permit.
The Temple is located a block from city hall. While the Road Runner Rancho subdivision is zoned residential, it is surrounded by commercial uses, a bed and a breakfast, another church and offices and multifamily residences. The church has been operating from this location since 2005. City zoning permits all these uses as long as the property owner has the required CUP.
“The allegations made against the temple are very concerning, I’m sure to all of us, not just myself.” stated Mayor Rob Adams. “You know, of nudity, of, you know, the website, what’s been posted on there, the supposed, ah, alleged sexual encounters by, um, Mister Nichols, you know over his lifetime, the use of the church is questionable…” The elephant began to stir.
Counselor Barbara Litrell added “Our hands are tied in certain areas because of the establishment of a certain organization or church, um, which gives it certain opportunities in private neighborhoods.”
In the CUP application, the Sedona Temple sought to use the residence as Church Parsonage. Occasional volunteers and personal guests and clerical help would also stay, plus some one-on-one counseling on occasion and possible video conferencing. The parsonage will host 3 to 5 events per year, with 30 attendees allowed. Temple manager Niki Faldemolaei asked council to extend the one year permit to the customary 3 to 5 years. The revised time extension was denied by the council. Other activities are currently held at the Southwest Drive property which is also owned by the Sedona Temple, and is located across the street from the old city hall and is in a legally permitted zone to conduct such activities.
Mr. Davis said the subdivision’s CCR’s did not allow the uses the temple was requesting. Krista Cline, from Essential Design, LLC , who was representing the temple, correctly stated municipalities are not permitted to enforce CCR’s.
Council voted unanimously 6-0 (Mark DiNunzio was excused) to uphold the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval of the conditional use permit. With the fall of the gavel by Mayor Adams, the elephant quietly exited the room, unscathed.
Hello Sedona Biz,
Thank your for allowing human emotion to enter this discussion, as the heart energy is the only energy that allows healing to occur. WE do not use the term ‘therapy’ as that term is unique to the medical establishment, rather, we use ‘healing’ which denotes ‘whole=ing’ and wholeness, oneness with Source. Healers and practitioners are indeed skilled and many are professional (devoted to a full time ‘career’). Others are part-time ‘lay pastors’ who do not make a living but are exploring a transition into becoming a tantra guide.
Most of feel we have accepted a calling from God/Goddess to do this work, and our authority to give soul guidance around the energy of the ‘root’ (what is commonly referred to as sexuality). Most of the ministers, priests and chaplains in this country are confounded as to how to heal families and relationships without being able to apply the electromagnetic bonding that a happy sexual relationship provides.
WE invite the folks of Sedona to come to any of our Moon circles, classes and events. :We also offer 1-on-1 counseling, healing and guidance, from the perspective of energy healing and the cultivation of our own light and connection to Source. Call 928.282.9399 for more information, and visit our website(s) to connect further with the materials and teachers.
Namaste’ (the divine light in me recognizes the divine light in you)
I have known Mystic Sister Tracy Elise for many years and I am proud to call her a friend.
She is a remarkable woman and teacher who truly believes in her religion and the good it brings to those who practice it.
I commend the council on their wise decision to allow our Constituional right to practice our beliefs free from persecution here in Sedona.
Sedona is a unique community where the healing arts abound. Nowhere else can we find such a bountiful variety of healing modalities.
The Sedona Temple School of International Arts is a boon and blessing for our community.
I find it interesting that resident Ray Scott says it would effect his property value. I believe that a main stream church(loud singing) & schools(loud abnoxious children) effect my property value, should I go to city council to have them removed from my neighbor?
Congratulations Tracy on standing your ground for all of our Spiritual Freedom.