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Indianapolis city officials accused of religious discrimination March 6, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in ADF, anti-Christian, Baptist Church of the Westside, Card, Christian, Christians, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, city zoning, David Langdon, Discriminate, Discrimination, Indianapolis, Indianapolis discrimination, zoning code discrimination.

A Baptist church in Indianapolis is standing its ground in a dispute with city officials over alleged violations concerning zoning codes. The Alliance Defense Fund is appealing the decision of a federal judge that could prevent the church members from meeting in their leased facilities.

Last month, city officials in Indianapolis sent a letter to the Baptist Church of the Westside, where members meet regularly at their leased building for worship and other church-related activities. The letter said the church’s “religious use” of the property violated the city’s zoning code.

A federal district court has refused to halt enforcement of the zoning code, so ADF attorneys are appealing that decision. David Langdon, an allied attorney with ADF, says churches should not be relegated to second-class status by city zoning officials.

“The city has indicated that they’re going to pursue legal action against the church, which could involve severe fines up to $2,500 a day as well as possibly seek an injunction from a court shutting them down, preventing them from meeting and from worshipping on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday nights and so forth.”

According to ADF, the city also informed the church it would need to obtain special permission to use the building for religious purposes. But Langdon points out the city does not require nonreligious groups to obtain special permission to use leased buildings for meetings or gatherings. The city’s action, says the attorney, violate the Constitution.

“They treat religious uses much more onerously than they treat other very similar uses,” he asserts. “For example, any kind of assembly hall or any place where people might gather to discuss politics or [meet as an organization like] Kiwanis, they’re permitted to meet as of right in most places in the city,” Langdon explains. “Whereas a church, no matter where it is — whether it’s [in] a residential district, a commercial district, anywhere in the city — they have to get special permission.”

The ADF-affiliated attorney contends it is discriminatory to single out churches and make them “jump through hoops” while at the same time giving nonreligious groups a “free pass.” He is hopeful the court will grant a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of the zoning code so that Baptist Church of the Westside can continue to meet while the case moves forward.

CARD {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: onenewsnow.com

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