Below are news items from the past week involving local government, religion, and land use that have caught our attention.
- Coral Springs, Florida may allow Satanist Chaz Stevens to begin a City Commission meeting with an invocation honoring Satan in September or October. However, Mayor Skip Campbell will first meet with commission members to discuss invocation procedures (Coral Springs Talk has more). Last year, we noted that following the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, Mr. Stevens, who recently converted to Pabstfestidian because “Satan is a cool dude,” requested that the City of Deerfield Beach, Florida allow him to begin a town council meeting with an invocation to honor Satan – his “Dude in Charge” (prior post here).
- CBN News reports that there have been acts of anti-Semitism and vandalism in the area of Toras Chaim synagogue, which has countersued the City of Dallas, Texas under RLUIPA contending that the City’s efforts to close the synagogue for failure to renovate the subject property and obtain a certificate of occupancy violate the statute (see our prior post here).
- Randall Daluz, convicted of triple murder, may bring a RLUIPA and First Amendment suit to challenge the Maine Department of Corrections’ policy prohibiting prisoners from publishing their work. With the assistance of his spiritual advisor’s wife, Mr. Daluz started a website – The Journal of a New Creation – to spread his Christian beliefs. Mr. Daluz handwrites his religious messages that are then transcribed onto the website by the spiritual advisor’s wife (Governing reports on the story). Follow the hyperlink to access The Journal of a New Creation
- Religion Clause reports that the Ninth Circuit has rejected an Aryan Christian Odinist prisoner’s claim that having a non-white cellmate violates RLUIPA’s substantial burden provision. The prisoner claimed that the presence of a non-white cellmate would pollute his Odinist religious practice known as “the spiritual circle of Odinist Warding.” The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Walker v. Beard, No. 12-17460 (9th Cir. 2015), is available here.
- The Washington Post reports that the American Civil Liberties Union no longer supports the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Act is being used as a tool to discriminate or impose one’s views on others.
- MLive reports that Flint, Michigan City Attorney Peter Bade issued a June 22 opinion advising the City Council that invocation can be allowed in meetings, but suggested that council members not lead the invocation. Hours later, Councilwoman Jackie Poplar led an pre-meeting invocation and stated that the City Attorney’s opinion was “poppycock.”
- Forsythe County News reports of the ongoing saga of Chinmaya’s proposed Hindu temple in west Forsythe opposed by a homeowners’ association. The proposal will consist of about 60,000 square feet and include more than 300 parking spaces.