Contact: PUBLIC RELATIONS
DEPARTMENT - 800-671-1776
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 5, 2007
that Booted Churches from Commercial Zones Gets the Boot
WI - The City Council of Washburn, Wisconsin, voted to repeal its
zoning ordinance, which violated the First Amendment and federal law,
to eliminate discriminatory restrictions on churches. The ordinance
previously prohibited any church from locating on commercial property,
even though the code permitted other nonreligious public assemblies
within the same commercial districts.
change in Washburn was made as a result of Chequamegon Community Fellowship's
attempt to purchase a commercial building earlier this year. Pastor
David Johnson had to cut short negotiations to purchase property on
which to build the church when he was informed by the city that churches
were prohibited in the commercial district.
week before a crucial meeting of the City Planning Commission, church
officials contacted Liberty Counsel for assistance. After reviewing
the ordinance, Liberty Counsel concluded that the city code violated
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA),
as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.
As a result, a presentation to the City Planning Commission was prepared
that requested the illegal restriction not be applied. The Commission
unanimously voted to recommend that the City Council change the ordinance
and allow churches within the commercial district. Now, the Council
has formally passed the recommended amendment and removed the illegal
Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty
University School of Law, commented: "Local governments may not
establish 'church-free' zones. Historically, churches have been viewed
as a benefit to society. Churches not only nourish the human soul,
they also provide for many daily needs of the community. Local governments
must allow churches to minister in every zoning district in order
to reach the people."