Montgomery Faith Council Presents DOJ Talk on Religious Bias

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Montgomery County faith leaders are bringing a U.S. Justice Department official to Silver Spring to talk about religious discrimination in land-use decisions.

The Rev. Ken Howard, an Episcopal rector from Germantown, says 80 faith communities and 10 government agencies are sending representatives to the forum Wednesday night featuring Eric Treene, special counsel for religious discrimination in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Howard says faith groups should know their rights, and bureaucrats, their obligations under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The Olney-based Bethel World Outreach Church used provisions of the law to successfully challenge Montgomery County’s 2008 denial of its construction plans due to water and sewer regulations. A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, reversed the decision in 2013.

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