Judge Denies Religious School’s Request For Special Treatment

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Logo for Tree of Life Christian SchoolsThe city of Upper Arlington is a land locked suburb of Columbus Ohio. Because of a lack of room for expansion they have passed ordinances to protect their property tax base by controlling how property can be used. Tree of Life Christian Schools purchased a seven building office complex in 2010 and want to consolidate the private schools they run at the location. Schools are one of the land uses prohibited by the city. Tree of Life sued in federal court and a judge ruled that the religious school wasn’t discriminated against.

A federal judge has ruled that Upper Arlington did not discriminate against Tree of Life Christian Schools when it turned down its request to move its schools into a large office complex off Henderson Road.

U.S. District Judge George C. Smith concluded that the ordinance that allows exclusive zoning in certain areas of the city does not treat religious schools differently from other schools.

“Based on the evidence presented, allowing a school, religious or not … would be inconsistent with the purposes of the ORC Office and Research District,” Smith wrote.

Upper Arlington can block Christian schools from site, judge rules

Tree of Life’s argument is that because it teaches religion, it is also a church, which is an allowed use. The judge rejected that argument.

Churches don’t pay property taxes. The need to maintain or increase such taxes, which fund city operations and the public schools, was the reason for the special zoning of the complex area in the first place.

I’m sure the city never imagined that a religious group would be able to buy the largest office complex in the city. The down payment was about $1.2 million with a mortgage for the $6 million purchase price.

Basically the church is operating like a corporation yet wants the special treatment given to churches. If I was a business owner, I would be upset.

Of course the school plans to appeal. They have a lot of money riding on the final decision.

One Christian Unicorn: Religion In The Schools

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created image of A Christian UnicornIf you spend enough time involved in the fight to maintain the separation of the church and state, you tend to see the same arguments from theists used over and over. Even though the arguments have been refuted over and over, they still use them and act like it is a way to get a checkmate against real religious freedom. One such argument is believing if only religion were put back into the schools all the problems in the world will disappear. The reality is much much different.
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Billboard Accused Of Persecuting Christians

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image of billboard with Jesus is Muslim message
Religious Pissing Contest Erupts Over Billboard

This week a group called ‘Ask a Muslim’ put up a billboard on the North side of Columbus that stated ‘Jesus is Muslim’. Of course some evangelical Christians got the vapors. They plan on holding a rally and prayer vigil against the billboard this Saturday. Really. The Christians plan on protesting a billboard. And ‘Coach’ Dave Daubenmire is involved.
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If Hobby Lobby Wins, Corporations Will Be Able To Tell Your Doctor What To Say

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image of a Hobby Lobby storefrontThe Hobby Lobby religious exemption to covering contraception case will be heard in the US Supreme Court starting on Tuesday. If corporations are given a right to religious freedom there is no telling how bad this will be for people. One bad result, that hasn’t been reported on by the media, is that both plaintiffs want to prevent Doctors from even talking about contraceptives to their employees. These corporations want to get between you and your doctor.
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Religious Persecution Is A Fantasy From The Right

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image of a street sign showing Church and State streets crossingThose of us who are concerned about and study separation of church and state issues, here in the US, know that complaints by Christians about religious persecution are, for the most part, fits of fantasy by people on the right. Claims of persecution seem to increase when there are large cultural shifts like we see in acceptance of same-sex marriage. It’s always good to have a list of points showing that religious persecution of Christians is in fact a fantasy.
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New York Town Uses Tax Dollars To Plow Church Parking Lots

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image of a snow plow moving snowThis winter has been tough for many of us. Feet of snow and frigid temperatures have gripped the US from the Midwest to the Northeast for much of the winter. Many local governments have been strained to keep the roads clear. Some elections are decided based on how elected officials handle services like plowing snow. How would taxpayers feel if their local government passed an ordinance to plow the parking lots of some local churches? One New York town, Shandaken, did just that and like most actions that support religious privilege, the town leaders don’t see the problem.
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