Church for the homeless
A church with a primarily homeless congregation has filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Gainesville is engaged in religious discrimination for requiring permits it argues would not be required on a more "mainstream" congregation.
sues the city of Gainesville
Gainesville officials told Fire of God Ministries* that it will be in violation of city codes unless it gets a "special use permit," which allows properties to be used for purposes not normally allowed.
But the lawsuit argues that Fire of God shouldn't have to get a permit because it is not substantially different than the previous organization, the Loyal Order of Moose, which held meetings on the property.
The suit alleges the city's actions amount to a violation of the church's constitutional rights to freedom of religion and equal protection.
Placing restrictions on the church based on those who make up its congregation amounts to "discrimination of the worst sort," said Joe Jackson, a professor at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law, who is representing Fire of God.
"That would be like saying we don't want a synagogue in our neighborhood because we don't want Jews wandering around," he said. "It's no better to discriminate against someone on the basis that they're poor than on the color of their skin or on their religion."
Read the Gainesville Sun story here.
And see this previous post about another federal lawsuit against Gainesville, claiming its panhandling ordinance is unconstitutional.
* I haven't linked to the church website 'cause I think I picked up a virus there. My protection system knocked it down, but if you want to check it out, be careful.