Press Release

Anglican Church Wins Victory For Religious Communities Florida-based Church reaffirms right to build new house of worship

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219 media@becketlaw.org

Additional Information

Washington, D.C. – Last night, on behalf of a Florida-based Anglican Church, Becket won an important victory reaffirming the rights of religious communities everywhere seeking to build new places of worship.

“Under federal law, churches must be treated on equal terms with other community groups, no worse than the local rotary, school, or movie theater,” said Senior Counsel Hannah Smith of Becket. “If religious freedom means anything, it means being able to grow a community of believers in a permanent physical space suitable for the congregation’s needs.”

In 2013, the Church of Our Savior, an Anglican community located in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, applied for permits to build a new, permanent church to accommodate its growing numbers, but its application was twice denied.

After several years of seeking a place to worship, the Church of Our Savior can now build a new permanent home on Beach Boulevard. The settlement follows a ruling in favor of the church by a Florida district court in 2014. The court held that the church had suffered a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal civil-rights law designed to protect houses of worship from discrimination. Following the settlement agreement and the court’s orders, the church now has the right to proceed with construction.

“We are so thankful to finally be free to build a house of worship in the place we believe God has called us. We are blessed to have had Becket come along side us in our time of need,” said Reverend David Ball, pastor of the church.

The Church of Our Savior was represented by Daniel Dalton of Dalton & Tomich, Charles Stambaugh of Stambaugh & Associates, and Hannah Smith and Luke Goodrich of Becket. Mr. Dalton and Mr. Stambaugh guided the church through the successful trial and favorable settlement. Becket led litigation at the Eleventh Circuit.

Becket is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading law firms handling land-use litigation under RLUIPA. Becket successfully represented the plaintiffs in the first case resolved under RLUIPA, Haven Shores Community Church v. City of Grand Haven. Successful RLUIPA land use appeals include Elijah Group, Inc. v. City of Leon Valley, Rocky Mountain Christian Church v. Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs, Lighthouse Inst. for Evangelism v. City of Long Branch, and Elsinore Christian Center v. City of Lake Elsinore.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at media@becketlaw.org or 202.349.7224.

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Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”