The Department of Justice is reviewing the zoning laws that kept
a church in Maine from expanding.
Church of Bangor, Maine was located in a small building where
it held seven Sunday services because of its growth. The
nearby city of Brewer approved the church for a location in
the local shopping mall that had long been vacant. Church
spokesman Jonathan Lang reports that after two years,
they applied to expand at the mall because of continued growth.
"They denied us and said that we were a legal non-conforming use
with the city's zoning ordinance for that area of the
town," Lang explains. "We then talked to them a few times
about trying to have them reconsider allowing us to expand."
But city officials repeatedly refused the request.
"The particular zone that we were in would have been okay with a
theatre, a bar, a club -- a variety of other venues of secular
congregating," the church spokesman notes. "But when it came to
them wanting a church to be in there, they refused it, specifically
because it was a church."
It came as a surprise to church officials when
they learned the Department of Justice is looking into
the case as a possible violation of the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act. Since then, The Rock Church is
breaking ground to expand its location in Bangor, after the
situation forced the congregation to move out of the mall.