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New DOJ Initiative Protects Churches Against Zoning Discrimination

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The U.S. Department of Justice introduced Tuesday its new “Place to Worship Initiative,” which goals to guard “the ability of houses of worship and other religious institutions to build, expand, buy, or rent facilities—as provided by the land use provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).”

The measure will forestall the federal government from discriminating towards non secular organizations within the zoning course of. The initiative will work with district legal professional’s places of work across the nation to boost consciousness of the RLUIPA provisions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes that is a step in the precise course for non secular freedom.

“The Constitution doesn’t just protect freedom to worship in private—it protects the public exercise of religious belief, including where people worship together,” he mentioned. “Under the laws of this country, government cannot discriminate against people based on their religion—not in law enforcement, not in grant-making, not in hiring, and not in local zoning laws.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom,  which represents church buildings which have been unfairly focused by native authorities, praises the choice.

“No city should use its zoning laws to engage in religious discrimination. Unfortunately, in the 18 years since Congress passed RLUIPA, local governments have done just that, blatantly disregarding the law,” mentioned ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “For that reason, we commend the Department of Justice and the Trump administration for placing a much-needed focus on the freedoms churches and other religious groups have under this federal law.”

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