Opulent Life Church Granted Injunction Against Holly Springs' Revised Ordinance

Nov 01, 2012, 16:47 ET from Liberty Institute

Following Fifth Circuit Victory, Liberty Institute Continues Fight Against the City of Holly Springs's Discriminatory Zoning Laws that Ban Churches in City's Central Square

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Liberty Institute on behalf of its client, Opulent Life Church, obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mills prohibiting enforcement of the City of Holly Springs' revised zoning ordinance that bans churches from operating in the City's central square. The court ordered the City of Holly Springs to "cease enforcement of its prohibition against religious organizations on the square." A full trial is set for April 8, 2013.

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The granting of the injunction follows a victory for the church in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit where the appellate court found that the City's original ordinance "plainly violated the Equal Terms Clause of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act."   The appellate court further noted that the City's revised ordinance now at issue in the trial court is likewise "a prima facie Equal Terms Clause violation."

"We are pleased with the decision of the district court, who like the federal court of appeals last month, recognized that it is unlawful for the City of Holly Springs to place special burdens on churches," said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute's Director of Litigation. "This case continues to set valuable precedent for churches across the country. Religious freedom is an inalienable right that should not be granted or prohibited at the whim of a single government official."

In January 2012, Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of Opulent Life Church and its pastor, Telsa DeBerry, and sought a preliminary injunction, which the federal district court denied.  In March 2012, Liberty Institute filed an appeal, arguing that the city's zoning ordinance unfairly singles out churches, and asking the court to reverse the lower court's decision. In late September, the Fifth Circuit declared the City's ordinance placing numerous conditions on Opulent Life Church, which prohibited the church from occupying space on the town square, a violation of federal law, and it reversed a lower court's ruling.  On the eve of the appellate argument, the City announced that it had enacted a  revised ordinance, which bans churches from operating in the City's central square.

About Liberty Institute

Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty's vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation's Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.

SOURCE Liberty Institute