Archives: Religious Exercise

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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


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


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

Supreme Court Holds Prison Grooming Policy Violates RLUIPA: Did Local Government Take a Haircut in the Process?

Remember the scene in Home Alone where Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) shaves for the first time, applies aftershave, and then screams in pain from the sting of the alcohol touching his skin (watch it here)?  Local governments may similarly feel the burn after reading the Supreme Court’s decision in Holt v. Hobbs, decided on January 20, which … Continue Reading

Wiccan Prisoner Seeking 14 Feet of Rope, Combustible Oils, and Candles Loses First Amendment, RLUIPA, and Equal Protection Challenges

Ronald Reiske, a Wiccan prisoner incarcerated in a Connecticut prison, thought it reasonable that the correctional facility provide him with the necessary materials and equipment to practice his Wiccan religion – including 14 feet of rope, candles, oils, a three-by-two-foot pile of wood, a pendant cord, and a “summoning horn.”  Should he have such things … Continue Reading

Tis The Season For Nativity Scenes & Satanic Displays: Happy Holidays from RLUIPA Defense

Ah the holiday season—a time for family, friends and overeating. While most individuals grapple with balancing a love for holiday treats and some modicum of self-control, the Nation is faced with a perennial balancing act: Protecting both the right to religious expression and the separation of church and state.   PBS Newshour recently reflected on the … Continue Reading

Sale of Property for Secular Use Does Not Constitute Religious Exercise

The Northern District of California recently dismissed RLUIPA claims filed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (the “Conference”) against the City of San Francisco.  The case revolves around the sale of a Methodist Church located at 1601 Larkin Street in the Russian Hill area of San Francisco.  The church was constructed after … Continue Reading

Fourth Circuit Clarifies What Constitutes Religious Exercise Under RLUIPA

In Moore-King v. County of Chesterfield (4th Cir. 2013), the plaintiff, Patricia Moore-King, is a fortune teller known as “Psychic Sophie.”  Psychic Sophie describes herself as “very spiritual in nature,” but she does “not follow particular religions or practices.”  Rather, she “pretty much go[es] with [her] inner flow, and that seems to work best.”  She draws … Continue Reading

Cult Leaders Beatings of Cult Members Not Protected by First Amendment as Free Exercise of Religion

In Ondrisek v. Hoffman (8th Cir. 2012), the Eighth Circuit reaffirmed an important principle concerning the limitations on the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment although the First Amendment entitles one to the free exercise of religion, it does not entitle one to exercise religious beliefs that cause injury to others. In Ondrisek, … Continue Reading

Does the Operation of a Homeless Shelter Constitute A Church?

Can the operation of a homeless shelter constitute a church use under local zoning regulations? A court in the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, Kentucky, will soon be answering that question. Heres the story. Back in 2010, Breakthrough Ministries obtained a conditional use permit to operate a small church with a sanctuary capable of … Continue Reading