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Federal Court Documents: Church Sues Mountain Home, ID for Violation of Religious Rights

Federal Court Documents: Church Sues Mountain Home, ID for Violation of Religious Rights

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Published by Tom Ciesielka

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Published by: Tom Ciesielka on Jun 01, 2011
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06/01/2011

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1
GIVENS PURSLEYLLP
Gary G. Allen, Esq.GaryAllen@givenspursley.comID Bar No. 4366601 W. Bannock Boise, Idaho 83702T: 208-388-1200F: 208-388-1300
MAUCK & BAKER, LLC
John W. Mauck, Esq.* jmauck@mauckbaker.comIL Bar NO. 1797328 Noel W. Sterett, Esq.*nsterett@mauckbaker.comIL Bar NO. 62920081 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 600Chicago, IL 60602T: 312-726-1243F: 312 726-1039
 Attorneys for Plaintiff 
*Pending Admission
 Pro Hac Vice
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
 NO LIMITS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES, Inc.,)an Idaho church, individually)and in its capacity as representative)ofcertainindividual members, ))Plaintiff,))v.)Civil Case No.)CITY OF MOUNTAIN HOME, BONNIE )COMPLAINT FOR EQUITABLE ANDHARPER, RUSS ANDERSON, GEOFF)MONETARY RELIEFSCHROEDER, ALAIN ISAAC, and )JOHN/JANEDOES 1-10 in their)official and individual capacities,)
Demand For Jury Trial
)Defendants.) _____________________________________ 
Case 1:11-cv-00255-EJL Document 1 Filed 05/31/11 Page 1 of 36
 
2Plaintiff, No Limits Christian Ministries,Inc.,an Idaho church, individually and in itscapacity as representative of certainindividualmembers,bringsthis action for declaratory judgment, temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunction and damagesarising from the Defendants’discriminatory and unequal treatment of its religious assemblyandhereby alleges the following:BACKGROUND AND PARTIES1.Plaintiff, No Limits Christian Ministries (may be referred to hereafter as “NLCMor the “Church”), is an Idaho churchthat has beenbarred by the City of Mountain Home, Idaho(the “City”)from exercising its rightsto assemble forworship in its leased spaceat 535 N. MainSt., Mountain Home, Idaho 83647 (the “Property”) in violation of its
 First Amendment 
rights tothe free exercise of religion and freedom of speech and assembly; its
 Fourteenth Amendment 
rights to equal protection under the law; its parallel rights under the Religious Land Use andInstitutionalized Persons Act, 42 USC §2000cc, et seq. (“RLUIPA”), the Idaho ReligiousFreedom Act,
 Idaho Code § 73-402
,and the IdahoConstitution.2.No Limits Christian Ministries was founded in 2010 when Clark D. Williams, Sr.,an ordained pastorand a licensed Christian counselor,and his wife DanaWilliams beganmeeting with people at theirhome for times of bible study, worship, counseling, and prayer. The purpose of the meetings wasto discover and exalt the hopeandlife found in Jesus and to counselthose seekingmarital, familial, and financial peace.
Exhibit A
, Declaration of Pastor Clark D.Williams, Sr. (“Williams Dec.”) ¶¶1-3.3.After only a couple of months,the William’s homecould no longer accommodatethe number of people coming to the meetings, so in March 2010, Pastor Williams begansearching for a temporary location where theycould have an office for counseling and space for 
Case 1:11-cv-00255-EJL Document 1 Filed 05/31/11 Page 2 of 36
 
3the growing congregation to meet and worship God until a more permanent spacecould befound.
 Id 
. at ¶ 4.4.At the time, Pastor Williamsdid not know that Mountain Home’s Zoning Codedid not permit a “church” use as of right in
any
of its zoning districts.
 Id 
.at ¶ 5;
 see
CodeChapter 4,
9-4-4: Land Use Chart
attached as
Exhibit B
.5.In March 2010, NLCM began rentingthe Odd Fellow’sHall locatedat 155 N 3rdE St, Mountain Home for limited Sunday and Tuesday use and continues to meet there for worship, which is on information and belief an accessory use of the building.
Ex. A
, WilliamsDec.at ¶6.6.NLCM, now a congregation of about 60-70 people, is predominantly African-American and includes many military families living in and around Mountain Homeand theUnited States Air Force base located there.
 Id 
. at ¶ 7.7.Meeting at the Odd Fellow’s Hall and lacking a permanent meeting locationeffectively precludes or substantially burdens the religious exercise of the NLCM congregationin the following ways(
 Id 
.at ¶ 8):i.NLCM is only able to use the space on Tuesdays and Sundays;ii.Sunday services are from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.;iii.Seating capacity is limited to 60 people;iv.NLCM cannot conduct its Sunday service in the same manner as it wouldin its own space at 535 N. Main St.;v.NLCM lacks the freedom to hold special prayer meetings, singing andmusical performances, outreach functions, and social gatherings of thecongregation;
Case 1:11-cv-00255-EJL Document 1 Filed 05/31/11 Page 3 of 36

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