ACLJ Files New Lawsuit to Defend Religious Organization Against Discrimination | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

ACLJ Files New Lawsuit to Defend Religious Organization

By Abigail A. Southerland1564001995252

Last week, ACLJ took on a new case to fight discrimination and bias against a non-profit religious ministry in Georgia. The lawsuit, filed in federal court last week, outlines the discriminatory zoning process the ministry has been subjected to over the past two years.

The timeline of events are as follows. In 2017, Vision Warriors Church, Inc. – prior to purchasing the property in question – sought and obtained zoning approval for its proposed use as a ministry and church. On at least two occasions, the County’s Zoning Administrator assured Vision Warriors that its use was approved by the County and issued a written determination to that effect. Based on these assurances, Vision Warriors went through with the sale of the property and began operating its ministry to individuals working to overcome addiction in the long-term. Vision Warriors is a faith community that seeks to transform men’s lives so that they can be better disciples, fathers, husbands, leaders, and friends. The ministry serves members within its community and transforms lives and restores family and other relationships.

Once the ministry was up and running, the County changed its tune and revoked the zoning approval previously granted. The County also amended its zoning ordinances on two separate occasions ensuring that Vision Warriors would have to follow a laborious zoning process to continue its ministry and, ultimately, be unsuccessful in obtaining approval. As the Complaint alleges, the County’s reversal of zoning approval was driven by stereotypes and discriminatory bias against the ministry. Notably, during the long zoning process, Vision Warriors encouraged County officials to come see the ministry for itself and meet its members. Two County officials agreed and, following their visit, voted in favor of granting Vision Warriors zoning approval. The rest, however, refused and rendered decisions in the zoning process that would effectively shut down the ministry.

In one last attempt to resolve the matter directly with the County and correct the injustice Vision Warriors has suffered, Vision Warriors presented an appeal to the County Board of Commissioners last week. Despite the evidence presented to demonstrate that the County’s actions – i.e. revoking Vision Warriors’ previously granted zoning approval and tenant occupancy permit, erroneously classifying Vision Warriors’ proposed use, denying it a reasonable accommodation (required under federal law) and amending its zoning ordinance to ensure that Vision Warriors would have to endure a laborious land use application process only to be denied – represent bad faith and should be overturned.  Nonetheless, the County Board of Commissioners voted to uphold its prior decision to deny Vision Warriors’ zoning approval.

The matter will now be heard by a federal court. As the Complaint filed in federal court early last week alleges, the County’s attempts to zone Vision Warriors out and render its ministry inoperable violates federal law, specifically, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

It is our hope that this much needed ministry will not be hindered any further in carrying out its faith-based mission. I visited the property myself last week and met with the members that Vision Warriors is currently ministering to. It is an impressive organization. Vision Warriors is bringing life and hope to the hopeless. It has changed countless lives and restored families and marriages. We will vigorously fight in court to see that its lifechanging mission continues to operate unhindered by discrimination.

Stop Discrimination Against Churches

Religious Liberty  Signatures

LOGIN

Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from ACLJ.

$20
$40
$60
$120
$240
Make this a monthly tax-deductible gift.

As we defend churches from targeted discrimination and harassment at the Supreme Court, your gift – of any size – will be DOUBLED today. Have your gift doubled through our Matching Challenge.

Email Address is required.
First Name is required.
Last Name is required.
Credit Card Number is required.
Verification Code is required.
Expiration Month is required.
Expiration Year is required.
Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from ACLJ.
Encourage your friends to sign and donate by sharing this petition.

ACLJ Files for Preliminary Injunction in California’s Singing Ban

By Jordan Sekulow1595941200000

Churches in California have been forced into silence. The ACLJ just filed a critical motion to stop the enforcement of the unjust ban and give churches back their voices. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment states it pretty clear: “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free...

read more

ACLJ Files Injunction Motion in California Church Singing Ban Case

By Jordan Sekulow1595886289760

The ACLJ fights back against California’s church singing ban. On today’s Jay Sekulow Live , we discussed our filing for an injunction to block the enforcement of California’s arbitrary church singing bang. The ACLJ is taking decisive action to fight for religious liberty. It happened on Friday...

read more

JSL: ACLJ Files Suit Challenging California Church Singing Ban

By Jordan Sekulow1594936464130

The ACLJ files a major lawsuit in California, challenging Governor Gavin Newsom’s ban on singing and chanting in churches and other places of worship. On today’s Jay Sekulow Live , we discussed the actions that we at the ACLJ are taking to fight California’s ban on singing in churches. We have...

read more

ACLJ Files Lawsuit Challenging California Ban on Singing in Church

By Jordan Sekulow1594855679228

We have just filed a lawsuit challenging the state of California’s ban on singing and chanting activities in places of worship on behalf of Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel Fort Bragg, and River of Life Church, in Oroville, California. On July 1, 2020, California updated the health order to...

read more