Archives: Religious Exercise

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Church’s RLUIPA Claim Against an Illinois City is “Likely to Succeed”

The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the City of Markham from requiring the Original Bible Church of Illinois to obtain conditional use approval to use property it leases as a church. The Original Bible Church (“Church”) leases property owned by its pastor in a “neighborhood shopping district” … Continue Reading

Nashville Islamic Center’s Religious Discrimination Claims Dismissed

A federal district court in Tennessee recently dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a claim by the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) lawsuit challenging a Tennessee property tax exemption law on religious freedom grounds. Please see our previous blog post about the case here. Background Since 1995, ICN has operated a religious school, the … Continue Reading

Bare Amish Horses? It Depends.

Two Amish men have sued Auburn, Kentucky (population approx. 1,300) in a Kentucky state court over an ordinance requiring that horses wear equine diapers.  The ordinance, passed in 2014, is intended to keep town streets clear of horse manure, and is the result of neighbor complaints.  The ordinance requires “[a] properly fitted collection device shall … Continue Reading

California Federal Court: Is Leasing to a Church Religious Exercise?

The Scinto Foundation (Foundation) supports religious organizations “by having activities which are similar to [religious activities] and/or by giving them money, or donating services ….”  The Foundation sued the City of Orange, California, claiming violations of rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and state law, because the City “deprived the … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Church Alleges Solar Panel Denial Violates Religious Freedom

A Massachusetts Superior Court is soon to consider the interplay of three important planning principles – historic preservation, sustainable development, and freedom of religion.  A Unitarian Universalist church is suing the Historic District Commission of the Town of Bedford (Commission) over the Commission’s denial of the church’s request to install solar panels on a building … Continue Reading

Indiana Church Files Religious Discrimination Suit Over Nearby Dairy Farm Approval

For the past 30 years, Harvest Christian Camp has provided a summer camp for thousands of Christian children on a 36 acre site in Henry County, Indiana, in accordance with its religious beliefs to “help[] children and teens to develop a strong life-long relationship with the Lord [through] praise and worship, Bible classes, devotions and … Continue Reading

New Article: Five Tips For Planners & Planning Commissioners Reviewing Religious Land Use Applications

Robinson+Cole lawyers Brian Smith and Evan Seeman recently published an article in the Spring 2016 edition of Connecticut Planning, a publication of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association that should be of interest to many of our readers.  In the article, Smith and Seeman discuss a Connecticut soup kitchen’s legal battle with the … Continue Reading

Chabad Files RLUIPA Suit Against Toms River, New Jersey

Rabbi Moshe Gourarie and the Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River Inc. (the “Center”) have sued the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (“ZBA”) in the Federal District Court of New Jersey.  The Center’s complaint is available here. Rabbi Gourarie has run the Center from his home and … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Soup Kitchen in Dispute with San Buenaventura, CA

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a district court’s decision that Harbor Missionary Church’s (Church) religious exercise was not substantially burdened by the City of San Buenaventura’s denial of a conditional use permit.  In 2008, the Church began providing service to the poor and needy in accordance with its religious … Continue Reading

Connecticut Soup Kitchen to Remain Open Following Settlement

The City of Norwich, Connecticut has agreed to end a three-year legal battle to settle three separate federal lawsuits allowing St. Vincent de Paul Place, Norwich, Inc., a ministry of The Polish Roman Catholic Congregation (Church), to operate a soup kitchen and food pantry at the site of a former parochial school.  The settlement will … Continue Reading

When is Mixed-Use Religious Exercise?

A Connecticut federal court has issued an important decision in a case involving the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that could affect how municipalities and courts examine whether certain proposals are religious uses protected by the statute.  The 2016 decision in Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County, Inc. v. Borough of Litchfield is … Continue Reading

SCOTUS Non-Land Use Case Could Impact Land Use

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request to review a church’s claim that the state of Missouri violated the federal constitution by prohibiting religious groups from obtaining state funding because of their religious nature.  The case involves Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, which runs a preschool and daycare in Missouri that is open … Continue Reading

Illinois Nuns Sue Over Brewery/Nursing Home Denial

Fraternite Notre Dame, Inc. is suing the County of McHenry, Illinois, over the County’s denial of a petition to amend a conditional use permit.  Notre Dame’s mission includes various charitable activities, such as a daily soup kitchen, a weekly food pantry, and an after-school program.  In 2005, Notre Dame obtained conditional use approval to develop … Continue Reading

Supreme Judicial Court Holds That Sweat Lodge Prison Closure Violates RLUIPA

This is a guest post contributed by Joseph N. Schneiderman.* On November 23, in Trapp v. Roden, 473 Mass. 210 (2015), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s (DOC) closure of a sweat lodge at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center (SBCC) violated RLUIPA. Justice Fernande R.V. Duffly wrote for a unanimous Court … Continue Reading

Life is Beautiful! Stevie Wonder Concert Not a Burden on Religious Exercise

A federal court in Nevada recently dismissed a church’s claim that a music festival in “Sin City” Las Vegas featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Duran Duran, and Twenty One Pilots burdened its religious exercise.  According to the church, the three-day art, music, culinary and learning festival known as “Life is Beautiful” results in large … Continue Reading

Tear Down This Wall! Botched Demolition and Apartment Conditions Lead to RLUIPA Dispute

On September 24, Rock Church of Easton (Rock Church) filed an “Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and /or Preliminary Injunction” against the City of Easton, Pennsylvania (the City or Easton) and its Bureau of Codes and Inspections.  Rock Church seeks a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the City from enforcing “local code … Continue Reading

RLUIPA Round-Up

Here are news items involving local government, religion, and land use that have caught our attention. Religion Clause Blog reports that Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis is using the state’s recently enacted religious freedom law to protect its founder and two members from prosecution for possession of marijuana. The Church alleges that cannabis is the … Continue Reading

RLUIPA Round-Up

Welcome to the inaugural edition of RLUIPA Round-Up, where we run through recent religious land use disputes and other matters involving local government and religion throughout the country. Some of the items below include updates of cases that we have previously reported, pending zoning applications for religious use, or other topics such as religious invocation … Continue Reading

The Ultimate Deus Ex Machina – Swingers Club Becomes a Church!

Every so often RLUIPA Defense feels the need to expand its reporting horizons. We usually stick to run-of-the-mill, pending or threatened litigation related to religious-land uses and RLUIPA. Sometimes we stray a bit and review strictly First Amendment cases (Satanic Temple at it Again). In this story, there was no permit denial and the applicant’s … Continue Reading

Satanic Temple at it Again: Brookville Feels the Heat After County Commissioners Deny Temple Display and Display Commemorating the Bill of Rights

Spring flowers and the final week of argument in the Supreme Court’s 2015 term have all of us at RLUIPA Defense thinking spring. However, at least one controversy from the 2014 holiday season is back in bloom (reported on previously here, “Tis The Season for Nativity Scenes & Satanic Displays: Happy Holidays from RLUIPA Defense”). … Continue Reading

Holt v. Hobbs Aftermath: Supreme Court Remands Native American Prisoners’ RLUIPA Claims

Less than a week after its decision in Holt v. Hobbs, the Supreme Court in Knight v. Thompson, No. 13-955 (2015), granted the petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated and remanded the Eleventh Circuit’s rejection of Native American prisoners’ claims challenging prison policy requiring all male inmates to have a “regular hair cut,” defined as having the … Continue Reading
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