Church Leaders Versus Wall • Church Shooter Trial • Property Ordinances: News Roundup
    This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
    Church Leaders Versus Wall • Church Shooter Trial • Property Ordinances: News Roundup

    Church Leaders Critical of Proposed Border Wall. “Church leaders in the United States and Mexico acknowledged the need for governments to keep their country secure but said two recent U.S. presidential actions could endanger the lives of immigrants and split border communities. President Donald Trump called for construction of an ‘impassable physical barrier’ along the United States’ southern border because ‘continued illegal immigration presents a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States.’ . . . The presidential actions, signed Jan. 25 at the Department of Homeland Security, brought an immediate stream of reactions from church officials, as a group and as individuals. Many cited Pope Francis’ call to build bridges and break down walls” (“U.S., Mexican church leaders criticize Trump’s actions on border security,” The Catholic Free Press).

    How can your church speak to political issues or get involved in political activities? This article from attorney Richard Hammar concisely outlines the dos and don’ts for churches.

    Hearing for Ohio Church Shooter. “A competency hearing is underway for Daniel Schooler, the man accused of shooting his brother, Rev. William Schooler, to death last February in a Dayton church. Daniel Schooler is charged with one count of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts felonious assault and two counts of having weapons while under disability. . . . [He] is accused of shooting his brother in an office at the St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church on Nancy Street on Feb. 28. . . . A witness testified on behalf of the defense and told the court Schooler is not competent to stand trial. However a third witness described Daniel Schooler as rational with all proper memory and mental functioning” (“Competency hearing underway for suspected church shooter Daniel Schooler,” WHIO).

    Though violent incidents at churches are on the rise, “the number-one active-shooter situation . . . is not just a random act of violence.” Find out more in this Q&A.

    No Electronic Sign for New Hampshire Church. “In Signs for Jesus v. Town of Pembroke, NH . . . a New Hampshire federal district court upheld a New Hampshire town's application of its Sign Ordinance to prohibit a church (that was outside the commercial district) from installing an electronic changing sign. The court, summarizing its conclusions, said: First, the Town’s decision to deny the Church’s request for an electronic sign had nothing to do with either religion or the content of the Church’s speech. Second, the decision served the Town’s important governmental interests in aesthetics and traffic safety in a manner that was narrowly tailored to serve those interests. Third, the decision does not unreasonably burden the Church’s right to practice its religious beliefs, to practice free speech, or to use its property. Finally, the Town has not treated the Church differently from any other similarly situated landowner” (“Church Loses Its Challenge To Town’s Sign Ordinance,” Religion Clause).

    Even if your church isn't planning to install an electronic sign, it may have a building project at some point. Use our downloadable resource on best practices for communication and strategy during a church building project.

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    This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

    Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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