The city of Brookeville, Pa., pop. 4,230, is trying to shut down a homeless shelter run out of a church near its downtown. The pugnacious pastor, a recovering alcohol and drug addict, is fighting back, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvannia.
The city (and some local businesses) says the shelter violates zoning laws.
But the ACLU in its lawsuit is alleging "violation of the First Amendment, as well as the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which largely prohibits local governments from preventing religious organizations from carrying out their missions," according to The New York Times.
“At the core of this is that it’s difficult for the borough officials to wrap their mind around the concept that church use is more than a Sunday service,” said Witold J. Walczak, the ACLU's legal director. “This entire church is set up to help the least fortunate.”