Thursday, September 25, 2008

America, Land of Freedom..

I got this update from the Free Market Foundation today.

Judge Rules in Favor of Vietnamese Baptist Church

Plano Church Can Now Hold Services in New Building

PLANO, TexasJudge Greg Brewer today ruled in favor of the Plano Vietnamese Baptist Church (PVBC) in their case against the City of Plano, Texas, which has been enforcing an unconstitutional ordinance against small churches.  PVBC recently purchased a building in Plano but was barred from using it because the plot of land is too small to meet the two acre requirement in the existing zoning regulations. 

 “I’m walking on air,” said Thomas Le, pastor of PVBC, who, with his family, traveled to the United States as a boy to escape the Communism and religious hostility of Vietnam.

With today’s ruling, PVBC will now be allowed to use their worship in their new building, beginning next Sunday. 

 Jeff Mateer, lead counsel for PVBC, said, “I’m thankful we had a good judge that followed the law and gave these people the religious freedom the have traveled so far to find.”

 Many PVBC members fled religious persecution under a Communist regime in Vietnam, traveling to America in the 1980s and 1990s.  Pastor Le started PVBC in 2003 with a handful of individuals, and after the church grew to 50 members, began to look for a building of their own.  The property Pastor Le found on Avenue G in Plano had been a church, but was converted to a daycare, and was sitting unoccupied.

 Pastor Le and members of PVBC followed the proper procedures to purchase the property, and many of the members drew from their own life savings.  They then petitioned the City of Plano’s Board of Adjustment to make an exception to a two-acre-minimum site requirement, as the Board had done for other churches in the past.  Despite staff’s recommendation for approval, the Board denied Pastor Le’s request, which was overturned by Judge Brewer today.

 “This is the kind of thing that makes you proud to be an American,” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel of Liberty Legal Institute and co-counsel in the case.  “Judge Brewer did the right thing and the church is thrilled that they will be able to hold services in their new building immediately.”


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