By Christy Barritt
Church Fights for Tax Exemption
Christ Church Pentecostal in Nashville, Tennessee is taking the government to court and challenging its authority to define Christian ministry.
The church was denied a tax exemption for part of its property after the Tennessee Board of Equalization determined the church’s bookstore and gymnasium were not an integral part of the church’s ministry.
The church claims its facilities are crucial for outreach efforts and that similar facilities that are not church-owned, such as hospital gift stores, are tax-exempt.
The church is trying to work with the government to verify that ministry is taking place in all its facilities. They’ve given their gym over to a local YMCA and removed books from the bookstore that are not clearly religious.
Town May Sell Cross to Avoid Lawsuit
A California town may sell a cross that was erected more than 100 years ago in order to avoid a lawsuit.
The Father Junipero Cross was built on Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, California and dedicated in 1907 to commemorate the clergyman who was appointed to the charge of the California missions in 1767. When the cross was built, the land was on private property, but in 1955 the mountain became a public park.
On August 28, 2012, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State wrote a letter to the town’s city council, claiming the cross violated the U.S. Constitution and should either be moved or that the city should sell the land to a private party.
Riverside officials are discussing what would be the wisest move and are considering selling the .43 acres surrounding the cross in order to avoid a legal battle.
Porn Shop Fights City Ordinance
The state Supreme Court in Arkansas recently ruled that an adult store in Clarksville may fight a city ordinance that requires pornography shops to be licensed and regulated.
The ordinance gave businesses that were already established before the law took effect the opportunity to apply for and receive six-month extensions over a three-year time frame. Violations of the law can result in up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
X-Mart, the adult superstore that brought the suit, applied for and received one six-month extension, which expired. No additional extensions were requested. The city filed a lawsuit, asking the court to close X-Mart because of this violation. The store filed a counterclaim, alleging that the ordinance violates its freedom of expression.
The high court overturned a circuit court judge’s dismissal of the challenge and ruled that the store may move forward with its counterclaim.
Atheist Activists Seek Kid Converts
An atheist activist group has launched a website aimed at converting children and teens into nonbelievers.
The American Humanist Association launched an outreach website called KidsWithoutGod.com. Their intention, according to a press release put out by the organization, is to attract “humanist, atheist, and other non-traditionally religious kids” so that they can find information that is not colored by “supernaturalism.”
The company is spending $30,000 to advertise on 140 buses in the Washington, D.C. area. There will also be Internet ads on several media outlets that target a young audience.
Disney and National Geographic Kids turned down the AHA’s advertisements based on content.
Christy Barritt is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and speaker living in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her husband Scott have two sons.