BLOGHere’s What Happened When This North Carolina Church Stood up to Discrimination

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | August 23, 2018

When At the Cross Fellowship Baptist Church finished renovations on the building it was renting, it prepared to start worship services at the new location. The only thing left to do was to apply for a certificate of occupancy from the city.

At the Cross Fellowship wasn’t worried. After all, the building’s owner had assured church leaders that the building had previously been rented and used by another church.

So, it came as a surprise when the city planner of Monroe, North Carolina, informed them that the zoning code had recently been changed and that it specifically excluded churches, with no exceptions.

The curious part is that the new zoning code allowed uses for “education, training, or resources of a public, nonprofit, or charitable nature.” That means other nonprofits are welcome in that zoning area – just not churches.

It’s clear that the city was specifically singling out churches through its zoning code. That’s unconstitutional, not to mention that it violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal law that prohibits discrimination against churches in zoning decisions. So, At the Cross Fellowship reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom, and we filed a lawsuit on its behalf.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the government has tried to use zoning laws to single out churches and treat them worse than everyone else.

In fact, the ADF Church Alliance is defending Redemption Community Church in Maryland, where city officials changed the zoning code twice – blocking the church from worshipping in its building downtown and threatening it with a $250-a-day fine if it did so.

The government should never be permitted to treat churches worse than everyone else. But that is exactly what is happening in both of these situations.

Thankfully, these churches were not willing to back down. They felt called to stand up for their rights and the rights of other churches, and they followed that call in faith.

And by God’s grace, their courage has paid off.

On Tuesday, the City of Monroe, North Carolina, voted to change its zoning laws so that churches are not unfairly excluded. At The Cross Fellowship is now free to worship in its facility without fearing government punishment or fines. As for Redemption Community Church, a federal judge refused to dismiss that case, getting it one step closer to worshipping in its own building on the same terms as everyone else.

And those outcomes are certainly something worth fighting for.

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

More from ADF View All

On Valentine’s Day, 2 Stories that Show the Sacrificial Love of Adoptive Parents

Religious Freedom

On Valentine’s Day, 2 Stories that Show the Sacrificial Love of Adoptive Parents

Love isn’t always easy. If anyone understands this, it’s adoptive parents.

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/14/2019 21:30:03 Read More

Read What Two Former Students Wrote to a Professor Punished for Refusing to Call a Man a Woman

Religious Freedom

Read What Two Former Students Wrote to a Professor Punished for Refusing to Call a Man a Woman

These former students get it. While they don’t agree with Dr. Meriwether on e...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/13/2019 23:15:14 Read More

Abortion Lobby Shows Its Hand: How Far It’ll Go to Protect Roe

Sanctity of Life

Abortion Lobby Shows Its Hand: How Far It’ll Go to Protect Roe

The more desperate abortion activists get, the more they show their hand.

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/15/2019 17:57:50 Read More

News You Should Know: A Win for Religious Liberty, a Clarification on Title VII, and a Loss for Life

Culture

News You Should Know: A Win for Religious Liberty, a Clarification on Title VII, and a Loss for Life

Did you see these news stories from the past week?

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/15/2019 21:00:04 Read More