A church in South Carolina is waiting to know whether it can hold worship services in the town civic center.
"Redeemer Fellowship of Edisto Beach is a new church startup that was just looking for a place to meet and hold its worship service, and the civic center was a natural option," says attorney Christiana Holcomb of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization representing the church. "The church applied for and was allowed to rent the center twice for worship services, but when it came back a third time, the town actually denied the request and went a step further and basically said, 'We are changing our policy to explicitly ban all religious worship services from taking place in the civic center.'"
According to Holcomb, the town of Edisto Beach was concerned it might be a violation of the establishment clause to allow religious worship services in the center. But ADF argues there is no establishment clause problem with treating churches just like every other member of the Edisto Beach community.
"In fact, that's what the free speech clause and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment require," she continues. "The government must treat religion with an equal hand. Unfortunately … they failed to do so in this case, and we were in federal court just to talk about that case."
ADF filed a request with the court to stop what it calls the discriminatory treatment from the town and to require the town to treat the church on the same terms as everyone else while the lawsuit continues.
"It's called a motion for preliminary injunction," Holcomb explains. "That's what we heard oral argument on, and at this point, we're waiting on the court to issue a decision in that case."
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed an official statement in support of the church, and that statement encourages the court to grant the church's motion for preliminary injunction.
"We're very grateful and we're optimistic that it will help the court reach a good solution in this case," cheers Holcomb.