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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Indianapolis Using Zoning Codes to Ban Church From Building Usage

Pastor Toby Digrugilliers experienced regular attendance at the the Baptist Church of the West Side of Indianapolis Indiana, which they conducted in a leased building. The city decided that the zoning did not apply to "religious use" and that a "special" permit was required. A letter was sent to the church, explaining the requirement for "special" permission for "religious use," along with the fines in excess of $2,500 for each violation. The zoning allows for "auditoriums, assembly halls, community centers, certain health services, membership organizations or clubs, mortuaries, any type of office use, radio and television studios, museums, and certain types of specialized schools." Digrugilliers believed that the city was singling out the church, providing unequal access to the religious organization.

In June 2006 pastor Digrugilliers pursued the legal recourse necessary to regain access to his church facility. A district court denied his appeal. After a year of defending his church, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts decision, providing the Baptist Church of the West Side with equal access to facilities. David Langdon, from the Alliance Defense Fund and the attorney for the church, summarized the decision, "Pastor Digrugilliers and his congregation have the same right to lease a building in Indianapolis as nonreligious groups."

target=_blank>Court says Indianapolis officials discriminated against churches
under zoning code

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