Living Water Church of God v. Township of Meridian

Becket Role:


Decision Date:
June 9, 2008
Deciding Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Case Summary

One of the fundamental principles underlying “freedom exercise of religion” is the right to establish church facilities of sufficient size to meet a congregation’s needs.

For several years, Meridian Township, Michigan has blocked the Living Water Church of God from expanding its facility to carry out vital ministries of the Church. In August 2005, a federal district court held that the Township’s actions violated RLUIPA and stopped the Township from taking any further actions to prevent the Church from expanding its facility in order to accommodate its growing congregation and operate a Christian school.   The township appealed.

Becket lead the appeal at the Sixth Circuit, but unfortunately, the Court ruled that the township’s denial did not place a substantial burden on Living Water.

“At the heart of the matter is the right of any religious organization to practice its beliefs without government interference,” said Becket attorney Derek Gaubatz. “That includes protection from laws that unfairly stop church members from gathering together for basic activities like worship and religious teaching.”


Case Information

Becket Role:
Case Start Date:
January 7, 2004
Deciding Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Original Court:
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
Supreme Court Status:
Cert Denied
Practice Area(s):