11/29/2012: S&G client Fisherman of Men Church victorious in historic landmarking dispute
S&G submitted an opinion letter informing the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Review Board that:
Such potential designation implicates two federal civil rights laws, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C §§ 2000cc et seq., and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., each of which protects the right to free exercise of religion. As discussed in further detail below, it is this Firm’s opinion that the designation of Fisherman of Men Church’s building as a historic landmark would violate the Church’s civil rights under RLUIPA and RFRA.
"Religious architecture, through its shapes, symbols, decorations, ornamentations, and monumentality, represents a strong intention to communicate a particularized message about a group's religious beliefs. 'The history of church building demonstrates that the urge to express faith through architecture is basic."
H. Harris, "Historic designation for former York Theater building in D.C. denied," Washington Post (Nov. 29, 2012)