MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The City of Dothan, Alabama, and New Life in Jesus Ministry have announced a quick resolution to the church's lawsuit against the city. New Life had filed a lawsuit against the city after the church's zoning approval was denied in September. Pursuant to the settlement, the United States District Court of Alabama entered an order allowing New Life to worship in its building at 274 N. Foster Street.
The church's suit was brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which is a federal law that prohibits municipalities from treating religious assemblies on less than equal terms with secular assemblies. The lawsuit pointed out a number of secular assembly uses which Dothan permits by right at the property and contended that requiring special permission for religious uses is unequal treatment.
"We are so grateful for the city's cooperation. We thank the Lord that this lawsuit did not drag out at the taxpayers' expense and that we're now free to worship in our new home. It's truly an answer to prayer," said Reverend Aaron Barnes of New Life in Jesus Ministry.
The church brought the lawsuit through the Chicago law firm of Mauck & Baker, LLC, working in tandem with the Montgomery-based Foundation for Moral Law. "The city deserves a great deal of credit for working with the church to resolve this case in such a prompt and efficient manner," said Mauck & Baker attorney Noel Sterett. "I hope we can all agree that the equal protection of the laws and religious freedom are what make America great."
Foundation President Kayla Moore added, "Sometimes, Christians have to go to court to protect everyone's right to religious freedom. We thank New Life in Jesus Ministry for having the courage to stand up for the First Amendment, and we thank the City of Dothan for recognizing New Life's right to free exercise of religion."
Once the building is ready, the church will begin worship services there on Sundays at 11:00 a.m., and all are welcome.