APpa 11/21 1552 PA-krishna concerns
(jim thorpe) -- the prospect of a hare krishna "city of god" has residents
of an eastern pennsylvania mountain community fearful that members of the
religious sect will try to convert their children and turn their area into an
airport-like haven for panhandling.
Thomas wildoner, mayor of the town jim thorpe, told krishna representatives
who inspected a 400-acre site there last week, that residents were scared to
death the group would buy the land.
but if they do decide to buy the land, the krishna say it will be an
opportunity for the people of jim thorpe to become acquainted them.
The completed city would enclose 280 acres within a 4-and-a-half-mile wall,
and would provide shelter for 12-thousand people inside and another 30-thousand
outside. that's according to murti swami, the krishna's chief architect.
Inside the city would also be gardens, towers, wells, a lake, a palace of
gold, and a bomb shelter stocked with provisions for 42-thousand people for 30
days in case of attack.
But representatives of the 52-hundred jim thorpe residents said they are
happy with their own religions and do not need protection offered by the
religious devotees who shave their heads and wear saffron-colored robes.
they say they want the unorthodox religious group to stay in their
headquarters in west virginia.
APwv 11/21 1223 Krishna Concerns
By ANITA HUSLIN Associated Press Writer
JIM THORPE, Pa. (AP) -- The prospect of a Hare Krishna "City of God" in this
eastern Pennsylvania mountain community has dismayed residents, who fear sect
members will try to convert the youth and turn the area into a haven for
"Right now the good people of Jim Thorpe are scared to death that you might
come here," Mayor Thomas Wildoner told Krishna representatives who inspected a
400-acre site last week. "There are many concerns we have about you."
Members of the religious sect, a Hindu offshoot whose followers wear saffron
robes and shave their heads, favor the site that overlooks the borough because
it is close to its 1,000 devotees in and near Allentown, Philadelphia and
Harrisburg, Krishna officials said.
"It will be an opportunity for people to become acquainted with us," said
Krishna spiritual leader Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada.
He and planners who inspected the defunct Flagstaff Mountain Park Resort
envision their walled city as a "bastion that stands for fortification of
religion, decency, purity and love of God." Owners of the land have offered to
sell and the Krishnas are negotiating; no price has been revealed.
The Krishnas plan to build the city first with wood and then with brick and
stone, patterning it after their jeweled, marbled and gilded headquarters at
New Vrindaban, W.Va., in that state's Northern Panhandle south of Wheeling.
"We have to deliver it to the people in general for their welfare," said
chief architect Murti Swami. "Therefore we are delivering this concept of the
City of God to the people of the East Coast region ... and to 12 other
locations throughout the world to help humanity restructure their communities
in time so that they can save their religion, save their devotion, their
culture, and their identity."
The completed city would enclose 280 acres within a 4 1/2-mile wall, and
would provide shelter for 12,000 people inside and an additional 30,000
outside, said Murti. Along with gardens and a palace, it would have a bomb
shelter stocked with provisions for 42,000 people for 30 days, he said.
But representatives of the 5,200 Jim Thorpe residents, mostly Protestants
and Catholics, said they are happy with their own religions and do not need the
"We don't want your kind here," residents told Krishnas last week at a news
conference where blueprints of the proposed city were displayed.
"I don't trust what they were trying to sell here," said Wayne Hunsicker, a
resident of nearby Leheighton. "I'm very concerned about it because these
people are coming into a very conservative society, and they will try to get
younger people into their type of religion."
"My encounters with (Krishnas) have been in airports and cities where they
panhandled and pushed themselves on you. I don't want my customers being
panhandled on the streets," said Jeffrey A. Reitz, president of the Jim Thorpe
Area Commerce Association.
Such reactions are not new or suprising, Bhaktipada said.
"Anything new at first provokes opposition, especially anything that is very
vital spiritually," he said. "We don't intend to bother anyone. We want to live
and let live, but we want to make available something very wonderful."
Summit Hill resident Wesley Hiles said he is particularly suspicious of the
Krishnas since Bhaktipada was expelled this summer by the international Krishna
movement's governing body.
"If they don't want you, we don't want you," Hiles said.
Bhaktipada remains head of the New Vrindaban commune, whichrefused to
recognize the expulsion, prompted by a federal indictment accusing Bhaktipada
of arson, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and arson, and other
"They haven't proved anything yet and I don't think they will because (the
charges) are not true," said Bhkatipada.
He and his followers said they are not worried about being accepted in Jim
"They will come to us, we will not come to them," said Krishna monk
Vaikunthanatha Das. "They will see us by our works, not by our words and they
will come to us."