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fifth ward

Property Rights — and Wrongs

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The city of Houston must not have learned its lesson about picking on local churches.

After waging a public war against pastors who believe in natural marriage and biology, the city is once again revealing its distain for the First Amendment. For two years, she’s been trying to bulldoze religious freedom — and now, the local Housing Authority wants to do it literally.

Claiming the churches are in the way of area development, local officials want to demolish one church and condemn another. While no one knows the extent of Mayor Annise Parker’s involvement, it certainly seems in keeping with her anti-faith agenda.

“The Latter Day Deliverance Revival Church,” a Housing Authority rep told Fox News’s Todd Starnes, is in the way of “the block we are trying to redevelop. Without that strip of land, we will not be able to build the [affordable housing] units or library.”

But just because Houston wants the property doesn’t mean they have a right to it.

Jeremy Dys, an attorney for Liberty Institute, can only shake his head. “The city is trying to steal the property. It’s remarkable that City Hall would ever tell a church where they can and cannot do ministry.”

As a fixture in the inner city, both pastors say their outreach has helped turned the bad neighborhoods around. With food pantries and other charities, Bishop Roy Lee Kossie, insists, “This is where the Lord called us, and this is where we want to stay.”

https://youtu.be/unNC-Li4il4

As FRC’s Dr. Pat Fagan will tell you, the city has a lot more to lose by destroying these churches than they might think.

“In neighborhoods of disorder and poverty,” he points out, “religious practice serves as a significant buffer against drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. A study of 2,358 young black males from impoverished inner-city Chicago and Philadelphia found that a high level of religious attendance was associated with a 46% reduction in the likelihood of using drugs, a 57% reduction in the probability of dealing drugs, and a 39% decrease in the likelihood of committing a crime that was not drug-related.”

At the metropolitan level, areas with high rates of congregational membership also “tend to have lower homicide and suicide rates than other metropolitan areas.”

In the meantime, neither church plans on giving up without a fight. And that’s exactly what the local government should be concerned about. As the Texas Supreme Court explained, no one is above the law — including the people making it.



 

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