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City moves to condemn SBC church using eminent domain
Baptist Press ^ | 3/9/2006 | Erin Roach

Posted on 03/09/2006 3:46:26 PM PST by twntaipan

LONG BEACH, Calif. (BP)--City leaders in Long Beach, Calif., have classified the Filipino Baptist Fellowship’s building as a blighted area and are forcing the congregation out in order to make way for condominiums.

The path for the case was laid when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last summer in Kelo v. New London, Connecticut that a city’s use of eminent domain to transfer property from one private party to another may qualify as a “public use” protected by the Constitution.

John Eastman, director of The Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence who is defending the church, said the case -– the first involving a Baptist church -- may play a key role in reversing the high court’s eminent domain decision.

“In my view, the Supreme Court made a terrible mistake in Kelo, and I think they know that and they’re going to be looking for a way to extricate [themselves] from that case,” Eastman told Baptist Press. “It seems to me that the best challenge to the principle of that case is a church case, where there is no economic output, so any economic development could then be utilized to take out the church under the Kelo theory.

“That’s preposterous, so I think getting a church case up there in very short order may get them to rethink Kelo,” Eastman said.

Currently, there are eight other active cases of eminent domain abuse against churches across the country, according to the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm in Arlington, Va.

The city of Long Beach will hold a “hearing of necessity” March 13, when they are slated to vote on a resolution authorizing the city attorney to begin proceedings to condemn the property, said Eastman, who is working to stop the move.

During a segment on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes” March 3, church member Sally Derro said when the church building was given to the congregation, it was an answer to many years of prayer.

“Every day, the young kids pray that this church would not fall,” church member Jovine Agustine added.

Roem Agustine, pastor of the Filipino Baptist Fellowship, said the city has made proposals for an alternative site, but none of them have been acceptable.

“Either they are small in area or they are in the redevelopment area of the city, and we don’t want to move to a place where later on we’ll be told to move out again,” the pastor said.

One of the proposed relocation sites was a bar.

Eastman, on Fox, said the church building is not in any shape to be condemned.

“It’s not blighted. We’re not talking about a rundown slum that’s boarded up with bars on the windows,” he said. “The church is a vibrant church. So we’ll challenge whether they’re allowed to take it at all.”

The congregation has adequate legal grounds to argue the case, Eastman, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said.

“This is a church, and the Supreme Court’s decision ... didn’t involve a church,” he said. “I think the fact that it’s a church means we’re going to have to force the court to [re-examine] whether you can just take people’s private property for economic development when you’ve got an institution that doesn’t have an economic base -- it has a spiritual base for its contribution to the community.”

Part of the problem, Eastman said on Fox, is that the government has lost its way regarding its purpose.

“It’s supposed to protect our inalienable rights to things like our own property. They think their job is to collect as much tax revenue as they can to make things prettier in other parts of the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, Agustine, the pastor, said the church has united over the issue and is trusting God to work it out.

“We’re just resting on the promise of the Lord that He will not leave us nor forsake us,” he said.

Eastman told BP it’s ridiculous for a church building to be condemned in favor of a shopping center or something that would bring in more revenue for a city, and church members across the nation should be aggressive in fighting any attempts to take their land. In addition to the legal arguments, church members can have a political impact as well, he said.

“A lot of eminent domain is done by a redevelopment agency that is actually the city council people wearing redevelopment hats,” he said. “That means they all face elections, and in many places in the country they can face recalls.

“What I would propose is people be ready with recall efforts or election efforts the day after any condemnation vote is taken, that councilmen who vote for these things ought to be held accountable,” Eastman said.

He also recommended ensuring that churchgoers show up at hearings on the issue in large numbers in order to get the attention of councilmen.

“In most jurisdictions, the board is required to have a public comment session, and they get one minute each. Well, one minute each by three people is not a big headache for them, but one minute each by 100 people or 300 people starts putting these things down until midnight or 1 a.m. and makes condemnation decisions very uncomfortable for them,” Eastman said. “We’ve got to start pushing it that way.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: baptist; christian; church; domain; eminent; eminentdomain; kelo; landgrab; liberalelites; longbeach; propertyrights; sbc; ussc
Seems like the land grabs made possible by the USSC decision last year is hitting more than just private homes. I imagine secularists will rejoice over this injustice.
1 posted on 03/09/2006 3:46:30 PM PST by twntaipan
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To: twntaipan

The only folks who weren't predicting that churches would be be first hit were most likely liars or fools.


2 posted on 03/09/2006 3:48:47 PM PST by FormerLib (Kosova: "land stolen from Serbs and given to terrorist killers in a futile attempt to appease them.")
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To: twntaipan

I'd like to see many challenges, I am just not hopeful since both O'Conner AND Rehnquist voted against Kelo.

The real swing vote, Kennedy, is still at large.


3 posted on 03/09/2006 3:50:21 PM PST by sittnick (There is no salvation in politics.)
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To: twntaipan

BTTT


4 posted on 03/09/2006 3:50:31 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: twntaipan
I imagine secularists will rejoice over this injustice. Yes, they will. Until the Sierra Club or the ACLU-sers lose their non-profit, tax-exempt properties under that same theory.
5 posted on 03/09/2006 3:52:02 PM PST by PeterFinn (Anita Bryant was right!)
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To: twntaipan

This is what happens when you give Christophobes and other hatemongers the power to seize people's property to improve the tax base, or for whatever other reason (just because they don't like you.)

That is one of the key tenets of Fascism, BTW.


6 posted on 03/09/2006 4:05:43 PM PST by TBP
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To: FormerLib
Even my 21 year old daughter said churches would be next. I thought it was an exaggeration but apparently not. This is really scary.
7 posted on 03/09/2006 4:19:19 PM PST by mlc9852
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To: mlc9852
This decision will be used as a weapon by political rivals. A winner of a race will use it to get revenge on someone who dared run against them. And of course, the unscrupulous city councils around our country will kick out churches or whatever else they think are in their way.
8 posted on 03/09/2006 4:29:26 PM PST by Tolkien (Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.)
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To: FormerLib

And you are correct.


9 posted on 03/09/2006 5:19:56 PM PST by MarMema (Buy Danish, support freedom)
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To: twntaipan

Oh oh. Sorry, I can't read through that. Totally unjust and greedy.


10 posted on 03/09/2006 5:21:22 PM PST by Aliska
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To: twntaipan

When lawmen break the law, there is no law. -- Billy Jack


11 posted on 03/09/2006 5:23:04 PM PST by Richard Kimball (I like to make everyone's day a little more surreal)
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To: twntaipan; WKB

Fire up the Baptist Ping list please.


12 posted on 03/09/2006 5:26:55 PM PST by CajunConservative (Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Jindal.)
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To: twntaipan
Maybe this was the prime underlying strategy all along...how to close the churches -

P> We need to spread democracy in America - for it is lost. We are indeed a socialist country

13 posted on 03/09/2006 5:34:42 PM PST by maine-iac7 ("...BUT YOU CAN'T FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME." Lincoln)
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To: CajunConservative; tutstar; wmfights; TFMcGuire; blue-duncan; caryatid; Nightshift; TexGuy; ...

Baptist Ping


14 posted on 03/09/2006 6:46:49 PM PST by WKB
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To: WKB

BTTT


15 posted on 03/09/2006 6:51:11 PM PST by I got the rope
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To: twntaipan
"“In my view, the Supreme Court made a terrible mistake in Kelo, and I think they know that and they’re going to be looking for a way to extricate [themselves] from that case,” Eastman told Baptist Press. “It seems to me that the best challenge to the principle of that case is a church case, where there is no economic output, so any economic development could then be utilized to take out the church under the Kelo theory."

Roger that! Along with any other "nonprofit" organizations, institutions, or properties... like schools, public hospitals and (gasp) even government buildings.
16 posted on 03/09/2006 6:54:53 PM PST by DocRock
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To: WKB; CajunConservative; tutstar; wmfights; TFMcGuire; caryatid; Nightshift; TexGuy

I think more troubling for the churches than this is the California Supreme Court decision upholding the city's refusal to continue the Boy Scouts free use of the marina (a subsidy) because of their refusal to allow homosexuals in the scouts. The decision mentions violation of the non discriminatory city regulations concerning sexual orientation and religion. The logical extension is that churches discriminate based on religion and their real and personal property tax exemption ( a subsidy) could be in danger.


17 posted on 03/09/2006 7:04:47 PM PST by blue-duncan
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To: twntaipan
I wonder what's their strategy to bring this up before the supreme court again?
18 posted on 03/09/2006 7:48:19 PM PST by Fishing-guy
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To: blue-duncan
"The logical extension is that churches discriminate based on religion and their real and personal property tax exemption ( a subsidy) could be in danger."
_______________________________

I think you hit it on the head.

Now that we live in an age where it is "wrong" to criticize others "lifestyle" choices, conservative churches don't fit in.
19 posted on 03/09/2006 7:59:11 PM PST by wmfights (Lead, Follow, or get out of the Way!)
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To: WKB

“It seems to me that the best challenge to the principle of that case is a church case, where there is no economic output, so any economic development could then be utilized to take out the church under the Kelo theory."


Eastman bump!

Thanks for the ping!


20 posted on 03/09/2006 8:11:31 PM PST by dixiechick2000 (There ought to be one day-- just one-- when there is open season on senators. ~~ Will Rogers)
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To: twntaipan; Bob J; DoughtyOne; doug from upland

Anything practical we can do to help?

Love to do some FReeping while I'm in town.


21 posted on 03/09/2006 8:32:37 PM PST by Brian Allen (How arrogant are we to believe our career political-power-lusting lumpen somehow superior to theirs?)
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To: twntaipan

This decision by SCOTUS still outrages me. I'm sorry that guy wasn't able to get Souter's home to prove his point.


22 posted on 03/09/2006 9:11:30 PM PST by newzjunkey (All I need is a safe home and peace of mind. Why am I still in CA?)
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To: twntaipan
This organization is first class group that can take it all the way to the supreme court. SBC has money to fund the fight.

http://www.claremont.org/projects/jurisprudence/lbchurch.html
23 posted on 03/09/2006 9:50:51 PM PST by ThomasThomas
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To: twntaipan
the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last summer in Kelo v. New London, Connecticut that a city’s use of eminent domain to transfer property from one private party to another may qualify as a “public use” protected by the Constitution.
...“That’s preposterous, so I think getting a church case up there in very short order may get them to rethink Kelo,” Eastman said.

Why would they rethink it? All five of the majority are still on the SC. Unless Roberts and Alito are more persuasive than Rehnquist and O'Connor were, why would any one of the five change his mind?

... they’re going to be looking for a way to extricate [themselves] from that case,” Eastman told Baptist Press. “It seems to me that the best challenge to the principle of that case is a church case, where there is no economic output, so any economic development could then be utilized to take out the church under the Kelo theory.

I'm pessimistic about the chances that any of the majority has changed his mind about the Kelo decision and wants to extricate himself from the mess. Surely someone must have suggested the potential consequences of Kelo to churches/nonprofits when the SC considered the case. Still, a church case seems to be the best way to challenge Kelo, and by the time the case gets to the SC, hopefully at least one of the five will have retired.

24 posted on 03/10/2006 2:46:18 AM PST by heleny
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To: heleny
Still, a church case seems to be the best way to challenge Kelo, and by the time the case gets to the SC, hopefully at least one of the five will have retired.

I think Kennedy will find a reason to flip. Maybe he will read up on Scottish law or something.

25 posted on 03/10/2006 3:01:26 AM PST by Always Right
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To: Brian Allen; twntaipan

I am struck by the fact that eight churches are being affected by this terrible decision as we speak. That almost seems like a concerted effort directed against Churches.

Because of personal matters I can't commit to a FReeping at this moment, but I will keep this in mind Brian. If I can in a week or so I'll come back and address that idea again.


26 posted on 03/10/2006 6:00:39 AM PST by DoughtyOne (If you don't want to be lumped in with those who commit violence in your name, take steps to end it.)
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To: twntaipan
City leaders in Long Beach, Calif., have classified the Filipino Baptist Fellowship’s building as a blighted area and are forcing the congregation out in order to make way for condominiums.

They are going to hell.

27 posted on 03/11/2006 11:16:15 AM PST by Rytwyng ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche......"Oh, yeah? Wait 3 days!!!" -- God)
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To: twntaipan; WKB

huh!

I posted this but didn't see your posting at the time.
If you see any thing further on this in the future please ping either myself or wkb because we have a Baptist ping list. There were some folks who want to keep up with this story.


28 posted on 03/11/2006 11:19:18 AM PST by tutstar (Baptist Ping List Freepmail me if you want on or off this ping list.)
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