COURT DENIES CHICAGO’S MOTION TO DISMISS IMMANUEL BAPTIST CHURCH'S RELIGIOUS LAND USE CASE

COURT DENIES CHICAGO’S MOTION TO DISMISS RELIGIOUS LAND USE CASE

Immanuel Baptist Church’s Complaint against the City to Proceed in Court

CHICAGO, IL – Wednesday, September 26 – Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois upheld a Complaint by Immanuel Baptist Church (IBC) against the City of Chicago, denying the City’s motion to dismiss.

IBC originally filed a complaint in February 2017 after being prevented from purchasing the property it had been renting due to the City’s increased parking requirements placed on it as a religious assembly. IBC attempted to meet the parking requirements through various channels but was unable to satisfy the City after multiple attempts.

IBC’s attorneys at the law firm of Mauck & Baker identified two nearby secular assembly uses which the city has permitted to operate without satisfying the required off-street parking, presenting the court with evidence of the City’s unequal treatment in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

One day prior to this court opinion, Immanuel Baptist Church succeeded in closing on its purchase of the property.

“It’s been a big week for us! Not only did we finally close on the purchase of our building on Tuesday, but Wednesday morning I was delighted to find out that the judge had denied the City’s motion to dismiss our case. God’s timing is perfect,” said Nathan Carter, lead pastor of IBC.

Nonetheless, the struggle is ongoing as IBC incurred significant expenses due to the illegal parking requirements, including the Church’s monthly rent payments on the property it was already prepared to purchase as well as legal fees and emotional toll. This case is next before Judge Tharp on October 17th for a status hearing.

“We eagerly anticipate what will transpire next. And, if necessary, we confidently look forward to showing in detail all the ways that the current Chicago Zoning Ordinance has allowed officials to treat religious assemblies like us on less than equal terms than similar places of assembly like live theaters and libraries with respect to parking,” Carter said.

The Department of Justice recently hosted a panel of experts in Chicago to discuss RLUIPA. As one of the panelists, Pastor Carter explained the Church’s ongoing troubles with the City.

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