Oregon church wins appeal to build new sanctuary The Council relied on The Becket Fund’s letter in reversing the Planning Commission’s decision.
Ryan Colby 202-349-7219 email@example.com
The Council relied on The Becket Fund’s letter in reversing the Planning Commission’s decision.
Life Bible Church of Harrisburg, Oregon last week won zoning approval from the City Council of Harrisburg to build its new sanctuary on land formerly owned by a failed RV resort. The Council’s decision overturned an earlier Planning Commission ruling that would have prohibited the Church from using its land at all. News reports said that the Church’s application was successful in part because of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal civil rights law that protects the rights of churches, synagogues, and mosques to use the land they own. The Oregon church will now be able to build its sanctuary on the banks of the Willamette River.
After the Planning Commission denied the Church’s land use permit application, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty wrote a letter to the City explaining that federal civil rights laws did not allow the City to “change the rules in the middle of the game” and that if the Church’s appeal was not approved, Harrisburg faced “significant financial liability.” The Council relied on this letter in reversing the Planning Commission’s decision.
“This is yet another example of why RLUIPA is so vital to religious organizations across the country,” said Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for the Becket Fund. “Without RLUIPA, the City could have told Life Bible Church to leave town and worship somewhere else. Now the Church can take land that wasn’t being used and turn it into a flourishing place of worship.”