Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Just in Time for Easter: Romanian Refugees Denied Religious Freedom in Dallas County

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 3, 2010

 

PLANO, Texas – Today, the Romanian Orthodox Church, represented by Liberty Institute, filed a lawsuit against the Dallas County Appraisal District, which is wrongfully taxing the church.

“The Appraisal District should be ashamed of itself for taking advantage of these folks who came to America in search of freedom,” said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation at Liberty Institute. “We’re asking them to do the right thing and restore the tax-exempt status wrongfully revoked and stop abusing their government power to intimidate this small Romanian congregation.”

The church, made up of refugees and immigrants from Romania, purchased a small tract of land in Dallas County in 2004 with plans to build a house of worship. Until it can gather adequate funding to do so, the Church meets regularly on the property for open-air worship services, prayer and fellowship.

The Dallas County Appraisal District at first granted the church tax exempt status only later to unlawfully revoke it. The amount that the District is requiring the church to pay is almost 30 percent of the church’s annual budget. If the church is required to pay the tax, it will be unable to keep the property.

“I came to America in search of religious freedom,” said John Stancu, the church’s Board Treasurer, who was imprisoned under Romania’s Nicolae Ceauşescu regime for speaking of God and later tortured for his faith. Stancu escaped the communist country in 1980 at the age of 24, fleeing to Italy before making his way to the United States. “It saddens me that even here, government bureaucrats would use their power to try to stop us from worshipping on our land.”

Liberty Institute is a public policy and non-profit legal firm dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families. Liberty Institute offers assistance pro-bono to groups, churches and individuals who have been denied their First Amendment freedoms.

For more information, visit www.libertyinstitute.org  

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