VA bill to stop restrictions on food programs FWD

Tom Boland (
Mon, 6 Apr 1998 11:48:02 -0700 (PDT)

Subject:      News: Part 2 of 2, Religious Freedom Amendment Makes Way
From:         Barry Hardy <>
Date:         1998/03/07
Message-ID:   <>
Newsgroups:   bit.listserv.christia


   In Virginia, meanwhile, a  religion-related bill has surfaced in the
House of Delegates. Del. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) has
proposed barring government agencies from imposing restrictions
that would impinge on religiously sponsored activities even if the
restrictions apply to all organizations.

   The bill, recently deferred to the 1999 legislative session, is a
response to a Richmond ordinance passed last year that restricted
local programs that feed the poor or homeless, including those
run by religious groups, from hosting meal gatherings more than
seven times a year -- and from serving more than 30 people
at a time.

   Although the ordinance applies to any group that runs a public
feeding program, it primarily affects the religious organizations
that operate most of these programs.

   The ordinance resulted from protests by neighbors against a
Richmond church that was feeding the homeless on its premises.

   "When any government gets into the business of telling a church
how it does its ministry . . . I think that's arrogance, and that's why
Virginia needs" this bill, McEachin said.

   The proposal is similar in language to the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act  that was struck down by the Supreme Court last
year. It required government agencies to demonstrate a compelling
reason before interfering with religious activities -- and then to to use
the least restrictive means available.

   The Supreme Court struck down the federal law, saying Congress
had exceeded its authority in enacting the legislation. The court's
action has left it to the states and local officials to decide what
legislation or ordinances, if any, are needed to protect religious
activities that are challenged by neighbors or others......

Barry L. Hardy
"When you have to kill a man it costs
nothing to be polite."  - Churchill

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