STONE PARK, Ill. – A convent of nuns in suburban Chicago has filed a lawsuit against a neighbor, a strip club they say plays throbbing music while the nuns try to pray.
The Sisters of St. Charles named Club Allure Chicago and the village of Stone Park in their lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court. They claim the club violates Illinois zoning laws, which require a 1,000-foot buffer between adult entertainment facilities and places of worship.
The sisters' property in Melrose Park includes three chapels. The strip club opened in the neighboring village of Stone Park in September.
The sisters have seen "public violence, drunkenness and litter, including . empty whiskey and beer bottles, discarded contraceptive packages and products and even used condoms," according to the lawsuit, which also mentions the "pulsating and rhythmic staccato-beat noise and flashing neon and or strobe lights" that disturb the nuns.
"Our sisters' sacred space has been invaded," Sister Noemia Silva told the Chicago Sun-Times. "At night now they hear the music when they're praying. That's uncalled for."
The nuns have a right to pray and work peacefully without interference, said attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based public interest law firm representing the convent.
Stone Park Village Attorney Dean Krone said the village has acted legally and reasonably. Club representatives said they aren't a nuisance to the nuns and the lawsuit's claims aren't backed up by police reports.
While the Bible says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," the manager of the club said the nuns are not being very neighborly.
"We spent an awful lot of money to make sure that this kind of thing would not occur," Club Allure manager Robert Itzkow told WMAQ-TV. "The whole thing is just a question of `we don't like you; you don't conform to our religious beliefs."'
Itzkow said the club's dancers "aren't monsters. They're daughters; they're mothers, and some of them are Catholics too."
The village of Melrose Park and three of its residents joined the nuns in the lawsuit.
"We are violated," neighbor Patricia Zito told WMAQ-TV. "We have a new generation of young families who should not put up with this."