Ga. church no longer meeting underground for now
Court order temporarily paves way for small church
Monday, July 23, 2012
In June, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit against the county for refusing New Generation Christian Church access to several different properties for its worship services. The county’s zoning code restricts churches from meeting on property of less than three acres in any zoning district but does not similarly restrict other groups, including sports centers, day care centers, libraries, performing arts centers, recreational clubs, and educational institutions.
In May, the church requested permission to rent the vacant property they initially occupied, but the county again denied the request for the same reasons, forcing the congregation to meet in the inadequate basement of a jewelry store. As a small, start-up church, New Generation cannot afford to purchase or lease a property of three acres or more.
“Under the city’s rules, only non-religious groups and large, wealthy churches can find an adequate place to meet, and that just doesn’t make sense,” Stanley explained. “This is exactly why federal law protects churches from arbitrary and subjective zoning decisions. We hope the city will change its zoning regulations and eliminate the need to continue this case.”
The lawsuit argues that the zoning code violates the church’s free exercise of religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law which protects churches and religious groups from burdensome and discriminatory zoning law restrictions on their property use.
Atlanta attorney Craig Bertschi, one of more than 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit, New Generation Christian Church v. Rockdale County, pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
- Church forced underground…in Rockdale County, Ga. (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
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Posted on July 24, 2012, in Church & State and tagged Alliance Defense Fund, Erik Stanley, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Rockdale County Georgia, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.