What is Religious Exercise? remains a prevalent question in religious land use news this week. Below, find our semi-regular summary of news items involving local government, religion, and land use.
- A District of Columbia church, the United House of Prayer, recently claimed that plans to designate a protected bike lane in front of its place of worship would unconstitutionally burden its parishioners, the Washington Post reports. A letter written by the law firm DLA Piper on behalf of the church, included in the Post article, claims the lanes would also violate RFRA and RLUIPA. Plans for the bike lanes are not finalized, but the City has considered making the bike lane unprotected in front of the church.
- “May the Force be with the Military” sign and several more (“Allah bless…,” “Goddess bless…,” “Satan bless….,” etc.) may grace a Marine base in Hawaii in addition to an existing sign that reads, “God bless the military, their families and the civilians who work with them.” According to Inquisitr, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has requested that the base add at least nine new signs representing a variety of belief systems, “ranging from Islam to Jedi.”
- A member of the Oklevueha Native American Church, which considers marijuana a sacrament, raised his right to free exercise and protections of RFRA as a defense to federal prosecution for growing “hundreds of marijuana plants.” After the district court rejected his argument, the defendant entered a guilty plea to the manufacture of more than 50 marijuana plants, Michigan Live reports.
- The Alliance Defending Freedom issued a press release announcing that it has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of His Healing Hands Church that wished to use community rooms within Lansing Housing Commission public housing developments for religious worship. According to the press release, “the commission allows a wide variety of both religious and non-religious community groups to use the rooms,” but has denied access to the church.
- The Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of a student and his father against the Concord Community Schools in Elkhart, Indiana, which includes a “live Nativity Scene” in a yearly “Christmas Spectacular” presentation, Christianity Today reports.
- Residents abutting land owned by the Denton County Cowboy Church have filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the church from building an indoor rodeo arena in an area zoned for single family residential use, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports. The Cowboy Church has already erected an eight-foot wooden fence and other improvements without, according to the plaintiffs, obtaining the proper permits or zone change.