Federal Court Stands Up for Religious Liberty in Small Texas Town

Federal Court Stands Up for Religious Liberty in Small Texas Town

Federal Judge Andrew Hanen prevented the Town of Bayview, Texas from stopping the town’s only church from operating on its own property by issuing a preliminary injunction against the town. The Town of Bayview attempted to stop the Cornerstone Church by the Bay from expanding its church and plans for a school by re-interpreting a zoning ordinance. Liberty Institute represented the church in its legal battle with the town.

Cornerstone Church by the Bay was gifted property in Bayviewand made a request to the town council for permission to use the property for achurch and school. Prior to this, the church rented space in which to hold itsservices. In June, 2014, the Bayview Board of Aldermen denied the church’srequest and later voted unanimously to ban churches and schools from the areawhere Cornerstone’s property sits. This was done in spite of prior precedence allowingnon-religious institutions in the exact same area according to a press releasefrom the Liberty Institute obtained by Breitbart Texas.

“We are very encouraged by the Court’s ruling,” said JeffMateer, Liberty Institute General Counsel. “It is a victory for our clients andfor the religious freedom of all Texans. We are thankful that the court recognized that it is unlawful for theTown to interfere with the church’s use of its own property.”

The court’s ruling allows the church to begin the process ofapplying for permits to build their ministry. “We are thrilled that the courtupheld our right to use our building as a church,” said Pastor HamiltonMusser.  “We look forward to working withthe Town and are confident that the Town will approve the plans of our churchschool, so that we can continue to minister to the surrounding community andthe children and families of Laguna Madre Christian Academy.”

“This type of blatant discrimination against CornerstoneChurch and other religious ministries by heavy-handed government is what ledour Founders to enact the First Amendment in the first place,” said PrerakShah, an attorney with Givson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP, attorneys for the church.

The court’s ruling also put Bayview on notice not to placeundue interference in the church’s ability to move forward and set a date inFebruary, 2015 for a status conference to monitor progress by both parties. Acopy of the injunction is attached below. Other case related documents can befound on the Liberty Institute website.

The town of Bayview is located in the extreme southeasternportion of Texas about twenty miles north of Brownsville, Texas.

Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated todefending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, forour churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s visionis to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of ournation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.

Judge Hanen was appointedto the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Bob Price is a senior political news contributor forBreitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow himon Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.