Thursday, June 14, 2018

Trump/Sessions Seek to End Zoning Regulations for Religious Institutions

One reason why evangelical Christians have prostituted themselves and supported Donald Trump even though Trump represents just about everything a true Christian should oppose and condemn is that in June, 2016, Trump promised evangelical "leaders - many are in actuality scamvangelists and/or hate group leaders - that if elected, he would put them above the laws that bind the rest of society. Trump/Pence regime efforts to roll back LGBT rights and legalize anti-gay discrimination have been part of the delivery on Trump's promise.  Now, we see Jeff Sessions announcing a crack down on cities that impose normal restrictions on churches and religious institutions.  Typically, zoning ordinances are aimed at avoiding the location of incompatible uses adjacent to each other, minimum lot sizes and building set back requirements, minimum parking facility requirements to avoid undue burdens on adjoining streets, and numerous other common sense restrictions.  Such restrictions that apply to all kinds of business and property uses apparently are objectionable to the "godly folks" who believe that general zoning regulations - and a host of other laws - should not apply to them.  CNN looks at this latest effort to grant special rights to religious extremists: 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an initiative on Wednesday aimed at boosting the Justice Department's role protecting religious institutions from cumbersome zoning rules.
"Under the laws of this country, government cannot discriminate against people based on their religion -- not in law enforcement, not in grant-making, not in hiring and not in local zoning laws," Sessions said in a statement announcing the Place to Worship Initiative. The announcement said the Justice Department would expand awareness of a 2000 law to shield religious institutions from overly restrictive zoning regulations and would provide "additional training and resources for federal prosecutors," with an inaugural community outreach event in New Jersey later this month. The planned event in New Jersey would come after the Justice Department also announced on Wednesday it was bringing a complaint under that 2000 law against the New Jersey borough Woodcliff Lake and Woodcliff Lake's zoning board of adjustment. The initiative announced on Wednesday marked another step by Sessions to steer the power of the department toward religious organizations and individuals. Last fall, Sessions announced sweeping guidance on religious liberty protections, and the Justice Department under his leadership took the side of a cake shop owner who cited religion when refusing to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker earlier this month.

One of my personal pet peeves is churches that are allowed to ignore "no parking" restrictions on Sundays and, as a result create unsafe driving conditions for through traffic on arterial highways. The need for such abuses is the result of zoning ordinances that do not require churches to have adequate parking spaces on their property.  

Churches sadly more often that not deliver much less in charitably services to communities in comparison to the tax drain they cause due to their (in my view) tax-exempt status.  Stated another way, churches do no pay their own way in terms of municipal services and the rest of the citizenry is forced to subsidize their often divisive dogma.  Now, they want to be able to ignore even zoning ordinance restrictions.   

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