In a clearing on a hill along a curve of the New River where apple trees bloom, Laura George wants to build a place for people of all faiths to gather in spiritual harmony.

Just one problem: Most people around here don’t seem to want any part of it.

Many of them wish she’d just spiritual-journey herself on out of their town.

Last year, prayer groups sprang up to stop her after the county planning commission unanimously approved her proposal for an interfaith retreat with a “Peace Pentagon” spiritual education center, public library and 10 cabins for guests. So many people filled the board of supervisors’ hearing that the panel had to move into a courtroom upstairs. After pastors and others spoke at the hearing, many warning that it was anti-Christian, a cult and a threat to the community, the board killed the project.

This summer, George’s attorney will argue in that courtroom that this is a case of religious discrimination.

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