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A unique New Jersey beach that was closed on Sundays for 155 years is now finally open to the public.

'23.05.2024'

Alina Prikhodko

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A beach in New Jersey has been reopened after being closed to visitors on Sundays for 155 years. According to New York Post, the Christian group that owns the beach, disagrees.

For the first time since 1869, a small piece of the New Jersey coastline that had been closed for prayer on Sundays for 155 years was finally open to visitors. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which owns the beach, had to open the gates or face fines of up to $25 a day. But the Christian group isn't about to give up.

“For 155 years, we have closed our beach on Sunday mornings to honor God, the foundation of this community since the formation of the Association,” the organization said in a statement. – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) now orders us to open our private beach on Sunday mornings. We are challenging this order to preserve our property rights and religious freedom.”

The group is forced to comply with the NJDEP order, but will not give up its commitment to protecting its religious and property rights.

God's mile

When local residents complained and began to ignore the Association's decision, state regulators ruled that the beach must be opened on Sunday mornings to comply with New Jersey beach access laws.

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In court papers, the Association responded that the beach is open to the public 365 days a year - and 99,5% of the time except on Sunday mornings - and called this "entirely reasonable." But the NJDEP decided otherwise and ordered “an end to the use of chains and padlocks or any other barriers that restrict reasonable public access to the beach.”

“While the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association's intention to comply with public access law during most of the calendar year is acknowledged, the Association's compliance with the law in most cases does not excuse its unlawful violations at other times,” said NJDEP Commissioner LaTourette.

Neighbors riot

The association calls its area north of Asbury Park “God's Square Mile on the Jersey Shore” and has closed the beach during these hours for generations to “honor God.” The group was founded as a shelter, religious services are held in a huge hall called The Great Auditorium, surrounded by tents in which pilgrims who come to worship live live.

An 1870 state charter prohibited outsiders from setting foot on the private beach during weekly Sunday morning services. But as the area grew, residents began to object. They see the age-old practice as discriminating against non-Christians and other segments of society.

“In our opinion, this is wrong. This is not how America should be, said Paul Martin, a local resident. “It makes life here very uncomfortable if you are gay, if you are Jewish, if you are an atheist or an agnostic.”

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