According to AgapePress, a Titusville, PA, church called the Lighthouse Christian Center, has been refused the use of a commercial building which they were hoping to move into, as the congregation had outgrown their old building. The area of Titusville in which they are wanting to move is zoned as a “church-free” area (who would want to live and work near wild, uncontrolled, partying, and just otherwise bad-news CHRISTIANS, after all?).
Citing violation of the federal RLUIPA, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution, LCC is suing the City of Titusville for discrimination and use of the land.
Obviously, I side with Lighthouse; they should be able to use whatever building they want provided it is obtained legally and their financial obligations are met. Whether or not I agree with their spending time mixed up in the court system to get the laws straightened up. The affairs of this world–includings its own laws–shouldn’t be too much a concern to those who seeking to please the God who has called them (2 Timothy 2:4), I think.
This reminds me in many ways of racial discrimination and the “whites only” neighborhoods that were around some time before I was born. Men who by no choice of their own were born with darker skin were discriminated against by hateful white folk–even by hateful Christians (which, honestly, should be the biggest of all oxymorons).
So now, assemblies of believers who by no choice of their own were born from above (John 3:3, “born again” beign better translated as “born from above”) into God’s family are being discriminated against for reasons I couldn’t even begin to fathom, aside from the fact that it fulfills the words of Jesus (lost people do this often, which may explain why they seek to discredit His words, which describe them so well so often). The persecution and hate of believers–even whole assemblies of believers–ought not suprise anyone with a cursory knowledge of what the Lord has said, that the world will hate them because the world first hated Him.
I have mentioned in passing that I think it is better for churches to assemble in homes and for churches to not register with the government as a tax-exempt organization.
Not a whole lot can be done about what people talk about and gather unto within a home. Commercial property, as shown in Titusville, PA, can be limited. (Thank God for that, or we may have adult book and video stores, strip clubs, and more popping up all over the place.)
And registering with the government puts limits on what can be said. (Endorsing any particular political candidate comes to mind, though there are others.) Church leaders will be limited enough by those within the congregation who want nothing more than to cause division among the brethren; there is no need to put on the government’s leash. It would be a small step for the government to restrict non-profits from promoting any particular religion as well. That day is growing closer. It may take a long time for it to happen, but it will. It will have to–Revelation says that one day believers will be unable to buy and sell, let alone own a building in which to gather without the need to pay taxes to that Wicked who will be in control at that time.
I’m hoping Lighthouse is able to get the building they want. Such discriminatory laws should not exist, but the government is not ours; ours is in Heaven, and it more than anything should make us used to obeying (there are no appeals before the Judge in Heaven).
If Lighthouse is not able to get the building, it may be the beginning of a floodgate, both of such white-collar persecution, but also of a home-church movement.