Below are news items from the past week involving local government, religion, and land use that may be of interest to our readers.
- The New York Times reports that the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds has been removed following the State Supreme Court’s decision that the monument violated the Oklahoma Constitution (prior post here). The State was facing a Monday deadline to remove the monument. Reportedly, a conservative policy group will display the monument on private property only a few blocks from the Capitol.
- The Department of Justice announced that it has filed suit against Des Plaines, Illinois in connection with the American Islamic Center’s efforts to rezone property to construct a mosque. The complaint is available here. We reported on what appears to be a very similar matter here. A post about the new lawsuit is forthcoming.
- The Blaze reports that the City of Jacksonville, Florida and Church of Our Savior have settled a federal lawsuit taken under RLUIPA that will allow the Church to move forward with plans to build a house of worship. Reverend David Ball stated of the settlement: “We are so thankful to finally be free to build a house of worship in the place we believe God has called us.” As we reported in a prior post, the Church, represented by Daniel P. Dalton, prevailed in this matter by establishing an RLUIPA equal terms violation (decision available here). The City appealed that decision, but the merits were not heard as a result of the settlement.
- Radio Station WHMI 93.5 FM reports that Genoa Charter Township, Michigan has rejected Livingston Christian School’s offer to settle a RLUIPA case involving the Township’s denial of a special land use permit to operate a religious school (prior post here). Reportedly, the School offered to drop the lawsuit if the Township issued the permit, but the Township did not respond because it believes the offer “is not a good faith proposal,” since it had previously rejected the same offer.
- LifeSiteNews reports that The Satanic Temple has sued the State of Missouri and the federal government, arguing that laws restricting abortions violate its members’ religious beliefs. According to the news article, The Satanic Temple believes that abortion is an “essential religious duty” for Satanists and opposed Missouri’s “Informed Consent” and 72-hour waiting period laws. Satanic Temple Founder Doug Mesner (pseudonym) whose Satanist name is Lucien Greaves stated that Missouri’s law violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) because “[t]he question of when life begins is absolutely a religious opinion.” The defendants have moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
- According to Religion Clause, “a Colorado federal district court held that the White supremacist Creativity Movement may qualify as a ‘religion’ for purposes of the First Amendment and RFRA.” The court, in its decision, noted that whether Creativity is a religion is a factual question and the plaintiff had presented enough facts in his complaint to survive the defendant’s motion to dismiss by identifying certain “commandments” of Creativity. The complaint “alleges that ‘Creativity addresses all the ultimate questions of life, including the meaning of life and its purpose,’ which, for Creators, is to halt the mixing of races and devote themselves to the salvation and survival of the white race.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Creativitiy is a Neo-Nazi Ideology and is “the latest of several incarnations of the racist group (and religion) originally known as Church of the Creator. The movement promotes what it sees as the inherent superiority and ‘creativity’ of the white race.”