A religious liberty law firm has hit back at a Pennsylvania town after it allegedly banned Bible studies and other religious activities from taking place on property owned by a local couple.
The Independence Law Center has brought a case against Sewickley Heights Borough, which is located about 15 miles from Pittsburgh. The lawsuit alleges that the town ordered Scott and Terri Fetterolf to cease holding religious activities in their own home as part of a zoning restriction, according to PA Family.
The suit argues that the town’s zoning restriction violates the couple’s First Amendment rights to the free exercise of their religion.
“Government should not target religious activities for punishment, particularly when similar secular activities are permitted,” said Jeremy Samek, senior counsel for the Independence Law Center. “In America, no government can categorically ban people from assembling to worship on one’s own property.”
The suit further notes that the property “has been used for many decades to host religious activities.”
The previous owner of the rural property, Nancy Doyle Chalfant “opened her home, and her beloved Dundee Farm, to church retreats, seminary picnics, youth groups and many other organizations she supported,” according to an obituary.
The borough reportedly issued a “Notice of Violation/Cease and Desist Order” against the Fetterolfs back in October of last year.
The suit continues:
“Sewickley Heights is threatening the Fetterolfs with fines of $500 per day, plus court costs including the Borough’s attorney’s fees, for having Bible studies at their home, having meetings where religious songs are sung, conducting any religious retreats for church leaders or seminary students for prayer or for camaraderie-building/fellowship time, and conducting any religious fundraisers.”
Randall Wenger, chief counsel for the Independence Law Center said the borough “has no business overseeing a group of people reading and discussing a book together on private property — even if that book is the Bible,” as reported by the Sewickley Herald.
(H/T: Sewickley Herald)