Thursday, January 28, 2016

African-American Church Files RLUIPA Suit Over Denial of Special Use Permit

A Johnston, Rhode Island predominately African-American congregation has filed a lawsuit against the town and its zoning official who denied the church a special use permit to allow it to use the church building it purchased last year for religious assembly. The complaint (full text) in King's Tabernacle v. Town of Johnston, Rhode Island, (D RI, filed 1/25/2016) contends that even though the building has been used for worship by other congregations since 1891, city officials required King's Tabernacle to apply for a special use permit, and then denied the application. The town's zoning official, who subsequently was recorded making racist remarks about the church, told the church it would now have to pay property taxes. The suit contends that the denial of the special use permit violated RLUIPA and the church's free exercise rights. Johnston Patch reports on the filing of the lawsuit.