A church in Texas succeeded against the petition of a local government to take its land as part of the city's development plan.
Through the help of First Liberty Institute (FLI), the Canaan Baptist Church (CBC) was able to keep its property which it purchased in 2002, WND reported.
In August 2020, the officials of Duncanville filed a Petition for Condemnation to acquire CBC's property. The city planned to develop the area by building a fire station, public safety facility and "other related improvements."
Relative to this, a resolution was also issued, stating that acquiring the property "is in the public interest" of the city.
But in October last year, the FLI and Winston & Strawn LLP filed a motion for the petition's dismissal, citing violation of the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
"...[T]he City's seizure of the Property would meaningfully curtail Canaan Baptist's free exercise of religion. If the Property were seized, Canaan Baptist's ongoing ministry and other religious activities on its consecrated Property would immediately halt," part of the motion explains.
"Canaan Baptist Church believes that God gave the Church this property to fulfill its religious mission to minister to and serve the local community. The City cannot interfere with the Church's religious exercise by taking the Church's property when the City has many other options. The Church is determined to fight the City and win," FLI's Counsel Keisha Russell said at that time.
On May 5, FLI released a statement, announcing Duncanville's withdrawal of its condemnation petition.
The news has delighted both the FLI and the church, expressing their gratitude to the city government for its decision.
"We praise God that the battle to keep our property is over. We are eager to continue using it to minister to the community. We want to thank the City for ending this conflict," CBC's Pastor Dr. Jarvis Baker said.
"Canaan Baptist Church believes that God gave the Church this property to fulfill its religious mission. The church is relieved, and we are grateful that the City made this decision," Russell stated.
Founded in 1969, CBC ministers to the Duncanville and South Dallas communities.
According to The Heritage Foundation, the First Amendment's religious liberty protects the rights of the people to speak and act in accordance with their beliefs. But the Supreme Court allows the federal government to restrict this freedom only upon a "compelling interest" of protecting the common good and limiting an individual's ability to harm others.
About First Liberty Institute
In 1997, Kelly Shackelford established the FLI as a non-profit law firm that focuses on Texas litigation. It was initially called Liberty Legal Institute, winning a number "landmark victories." The organization changed its name to Liberty Institute in 2009.
In 2014, it founded Military Division to protect the religious freedom of military servicemen and veterans. In February 2016, the firm was renamed as First Liberty Institute and is currently the country's biggest legal organization, dedicating itself as a defender of religious freedom in America.