Opulent Life Church Wins Permission to Move Into Holly Springs’ Town Square
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss., March 7, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Today, Opulent Life Church, represented by Liberty Institute, claims victory in its pursuit of permission to operate a religious institution on the courthouse square of Holly Springs, Miss. The parties in the case of Opulent Life Church; Telsa DeBerry v. City of Holly Springs, Mississippi reached a settlement agreement to end year-long litigation over the City of Holly Springs discriminatory zoning ordinance that banned churches from operating in the City’s central square.
“We are pleased the City finally relented in the face of a court order in the church’s favor to allow the church to exist on the town square,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Litigation Director. “This case continues to set valuable precedent for churches across the country. Religious freedom is an inalienable right that should not be granted or prohibited at the whim of a single government official.”
Last October Liberty Institute obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mills prohibiting enforcement of the City of Holly Springs’ revised zoning ordinance that bans churches from operating in the City’s central square. The court ordered the City of Holly Springs to “cease enforcement of its prohibition against religious organizations on the square.” Before that, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the City’s original ordinance “plainly violated the Equal Terms Clause of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.” The appellate court further noted that the City’s revised ordinance is likewise “a prima facie Equal Terms Clause violation.”
In January 2012, Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of Opulent Life Church and its pastor, Telsa DeBerry, and sought a preliminary injunction, which the federal district court denied. In March 2012, Liberty Institute filed an appeal, arguing that the city’s zoning ordinance unfairly singles out churches, and asking the court to reverse the lower court’s decision. In late September, the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court’s ruling and declared the City’s ordinance a violation of federal law because it placed numerous conditions on Opulent Life Church and prohibited the church from occupying space on the town square.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.
Posted on March 7, 2013, in Church & State and tagged Holly Springs Mississippi, Liberty Institute, Opulent Life Church, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Telsa DeBerry. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.