Mayor and her city forget their place

Mayor and her city forget their place

Mayor and her city forget their place

A church in Arizona is taking its city to federal court for limiting its free exercise.

Gethsemani Baptist Church in San Luis says the city is blocking it from distributing food to the poor.

Attorney Jeremy Dys of First Liberty Institute, the law firm representing the church, says it has a 25-year history of doing this for people in the area, and the city was once a partner.

"We're asking the court to stop the city from enforcing its wrong policies against this church and the church's right to engage in the free exercise of religion on their property, which in this case means that they'd be able to distribute food to the hungry," Dys relays.

The lawsuit is filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and the attorney says every day the case waits for a decision from the judge, someone is going to bed without a meal.

Dys, Jeremy (First Liberty Institute) Dys

"They have stopped this church from engaging in its ministry. In fact, they've come twice now to cite this pastor with a ticket which carries with it a fine. If he's cited a third time, that would bring criminal charges against him for engaging in feeding those who need it, the homeless, people who are crossing the border," says Dys.

He notes that before the mayor stopped the church from its work for "no reason whatsoever," churches were crossing the border to receive food to take back to Mexico, and area food banks were being served by Gethsemani.

"If a mayor like Mayor Riedel in San Luis, Arizona can thumb her nose at the First Amendment, then every mayor in the country can express his or her will upon every church, every synagogue, every house of worship, every religious charity out there to stop them from doing what that singular mayor thinks is the wrong thing to do," the attorney warns.

He says the Constitution ensures that the government is restrained from overly burdening the free exercise of religion.

AFN is seeking comments from the San Luis city attorneys as well as Mayor Nieves Riedel.