Romanian Christians are familiar with persecution in their home country but they didn't expect to encounter it in America.
The Holy Resurrection Romanian Orthodox Church struggled to find a place to worship in California. After finding a place in the Rio Linda area of Sacramento, church members discovered their biggest stumbling block is city government.
Brad Dacus, founder of Pacific Justice Institute, says one reason Sacramento gave for refusing permission was the location was near a bar, so the location might not be compatible with the neighborhood.
"Another reason given was that they said there were too many churches already," says Dacus, whose law firm is representing the church. "You know, it's not the business of government to dictate how many churches we need."
Church members were shocked at the city's attitude and observed that it reminded them of the hostilities they experienced in Romania, which had been ruled under Communism for almost 30 years during the Cold War.
The country's most infamous leader was Nicolae Ceausescu, whose reign of terror included spying on and imprisoning churchgoers.
Dacus explains: "They recognized clear similarities of the hostility that they had experienced in Romania, being persecuted as Christians, and they were having some of the same kind of resistance to be able to have a place to worship here in the United States."
The law firm reported in a press release that PJI attorney Kevin Snider spoke on the church's behalf at a planning commission meeting, where a 5-0 vote approved the church's plans.