WA State Court Rule Allows Church's Tent City

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Religious groups applauded the Washington State Supreme Court decision Thursday that allowed a church to host a homeless Tent City encampment on its property, the Seattle Times reported.

"We couldn't be more thrilled," Cynthia Riggin, the pastor of Northshore United told the Seattle Times.

CBN News' Charlene Israel first reported on the rise of these tent cities in America last fall. Click here for that story. 

"They affirmed our notion that we, as a church, have rights to do our mission and our ministry as we see fit," she added.
The court's unanimous ruling upheld the church's argument that a development moratorium should not have been applied to the encampment. Citing the church for the tent city violated the state constitution's First Amendment right to religious freedom.

"Rather than seeking to impose reasonable conditions on the church's project to protect the safety and peace of the neighborhood, the city categorically prevented the church from exercising what the city concedes was a religious practice," Justice James Johnson wrote.

In 2006, Northshore United Church of Christ in the city of Woodinville agreed to host a Tent City for the homeless. But city officials cited a moratorium on land-use permit applications in residential areas.

Nearly a dozen organizations representing several faiths came together to fight the 2006 ruling, including the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, and the Washington Association of Churches.

"It's important to congregations around the state that when they decide to engage in an activity as part of their religious calling, they be free to do so without state interference," said Seattle attorney Mark Goodfriend, who represented the groups.

"That's a very important principle," he added.

Between 60 and 100 people live in the Tent City which moves to different locations every three months.


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