This week, RLUIPA Defense continues its effort to aggregate important new stories reflecting the intersection of religion, land use and local government.

  • Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis – Indiana’s pot-smoking church founded by Bill Levin – has been incorporated by the IRS as a tax-exempt religious organization. Mr. Levin, also known as the “grand poobah” and “minister of love” stated of the incorporation: “Somebody at the IRS loves us because we got it back in less than 30 days.” The Church currently has more than 600 members, some of whom paid $4.20 to become members. Mr. Levin states the Church will “proselytize the wonderfulness of the gift this plant is to our human nature.” The Washington Times reports.
  • A federal court has ruled that religious prayers recited by Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors at the start of meetings is unconstitutional: the practice of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors of opening its meetings with prayer, the content of which is determined by the government itself, consistently invokes one faith tradition and does not provide an opportunity for persons of other faith traditions to participate…” The Roanoke Times reports.
  • Religious Clause reports on the May 28 lawsuit filed by the San Diego Christian Worship Center against the City of San Diego after the City failed to renew its conditional use permit.
  • A California high school reached an agreement with a graduating student who wished to wear an eagle feather during his graduation ceremony. A local ABC affiliate reports on the story and provides press releases from the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the student, and the Clovis Unified School District.
  • The Eighth Circuit upheld the state Department of Natural Resource’s denial of Trinity Lutheran Church’s application for a “Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grant.” The Missouri State Constitution prohibits public funding of churches and religious activities. The Circuit Court concluded that this restriction does not violate the United States Constitution. The Columbia Daily Tribune
  • West Virginia man sues school district for failing to recognize “evolution as religion” and that the teaching of evolution “fostered the propagation of religious faith in our West Virginia public school machinery and government at large….” Charleston Daily Mail
  • More on the Cowboy Church at Crossroads controversy from the Fort Morgan Times, including religious-themed pizza parties at Florence High School.
  • Supporters of the Creation Club complain to school superintendent that failure to recognize the student extra-curricular club violates the First Amendment. Michigan Live