Unholy Land Grab

21 01 2006

This is from Jerry Falwell on Worldnet Daily. It is concerning a church of 50 members in Sand Springs, OK, that is being threatened with eminent domain as a result of the Kelo case in Connecticut. Falwell references an article from National Review.

Excerpt: The town of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, has plans to take Centennial Baptist — along with two other churches, dozens of small homes, and a school — and replace them with a new “super center,” rumored to include a Home Depot. It’s the kind of stuff that makes tax collectors salivate. It’s also the kind of project that brakes for no one, especially post-Kelo. “I had no idea this could happen in America,” says Reverend Gildon, after spending Monday morning marching in the Sand Springs Martin Luther King Day parade.”

In the Kelo case, a group of Connecticut homeowners chose not to accept a corporation’s offers so that a business area could be developed. So the city council authorized the corporation to acquire properties within the designated area. When homeowners refused the offers, the development corporation voted to use eminent domain to acquire the properties, even though the owners were averse to selling.

Following a trial, the case was appealed to the state supreme court, which determined that the use of eminent domain for economic development doesn’t violate public use clauses of the state and federal constitutions. Appeals failed to protect the rights of the property owners.

Thanks to judges like Justice David Souter, the message we are receiving is “economic development” is more important than property rights. Some are already taking action against these socialist judges.

The church is obviously a target in this case. It is out of the way and could easily co-exist with the new businesses. Two other tax-paying businesses (a McDonald’s and an O’Reilly’s) are closer and should have been removed. Instead, Centinnial Baptist is being singled out.

Rev. Gildon has now coalesced with Americans for Limited Government and Oklahomans in Action to fight the takeover bid of his church. I hope that the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) can provide protections for Rev. Gildon’s church. RLUIPA is a federal statute that provides stronger protection for religious freedom in terms of land use.

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