Officials in DeKalb County, Georgia have reversed course and will now allow a church to continue renting public space at one of its recreation center. In light of a lawsuit filed on behalf of Transformation Church, the city, which was trying to remove the church from a public facility has ended its attempt to persecute the church based on its Christian beliefs.
As Beginning and End has covered in the past, this is yet another case of a local government singling out churches when it comes to renting public space (as was the case in New York City, where roughly 60 churches had to fight for years for the right to rent space in public schools). In this instance, the Redan Recreational Center was clearly a space open to the public for use:
“The Redan Recreation Center is public property that the county has designated for public use for a broad range of private expression. The center rents to non-religious groups for a variety of purposes such as family reunions, basketball tournaments, baby showers, Girl Scouts events, and private parties.
In May, the county informed the pastor of Transformation Church of God in Christ that a policy had been changed to prohibit churches from renting a meeting room in the Redan Recreation Center in Lithonia. Although the pastor repeatedly requested a copy of the new policy, none was ever given to him. On Sept. 30, the county informed the pastor that it had denied his October rental application and would no longer rent space to the church.” (source)
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal advocacy group that defends the rights and freedoms of religious expression of Christians all across the United States, filed a civil rights lawsuit against DeKalb County in federal court alleging that the county was violating the Constitutional right of free speech of the church with this targeted discrimination aimed only at the one group renting the space to sing, worship and teach about Jesus Christ. Joel Oster, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, commented on the case:
“Counties cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination. This is exactly why federal law protects churches from arbitrary and subjective policy decisions,” Oster explained. “Under the county’s new rules, both religious and non-religious groups will be able to rent space for their meetings.”
Jesus Christ provided the reason for the hostile attitude being displayed towards Christians:
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. – John 15:18-19.
The nation and the world at large is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity. While persecution may seem like something that is only happening in restricted nations like Burma or the Sudan, it is subtly creeping into America as well. Praise The Lord for this victory and continue to pray for organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom to fight for the rights of Christians to enjoy the same Constitutionally guaranteed liberties as all other people. And if those rights are taken away, pray for the faith of believers in Jesus Christ to continue to worship and proclaim the Gospel in love and peace, come what may.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33.