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Atlanta finally allows church to occupy its privately rented building

ADF-allied attorneys secure consent order, freeing church to open doors after nearly a year of resistance
Published On: 10/18/2017

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta reversed course Thursday, agreeing to a consent order from a federal judge that will allow Kingdom First Ministries to begin meeting in its rented building immediately.  The city made its decision after Alliance Defense Fund attorneys and allied attorneys filed suit against the city for illegitimately denying the church use of the building.

“A city’s zoning restrictions should not be designed to discriminate against churches,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman, who is serving as local counsel in the case.  “We are pleased that Kingdom First is now free to worship in its building.  Federal law does not allow a city to put a desire for property tax revenue ahead of the right of a church to meet in a facility that it rightfully occupies.”

In November 2007, Kingdom First Ministries leased property in Atlanta’s West End, which was zoned for churches.  While applying for a business license the next month, the church was told the area had been rezoned and that therefore the church must apply for a special use permit.  The church applied for the permit, but the city subsequently denied it.

Kingdom First Ministries spent thousands of dollars to lease and furnish its West End building.  With the severe drop in attendance at the substandard facility it was forced to use over the past year, it had to cancel most of its ministries and was on the verge of shutting down.

“Atlanta had illegally zoned the Kingdom First property to exclude churches,” said ADF-allied attorney John Mauck, of the Chicago law firm Mauck & Baker, LLC.  “Once the situation was brought to the attention of the city’s attorneys, however, they did not dig in their heels to bully the church.  Instead, they promptly agreed to the court order, and we commend them.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

 

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