Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Southern Baptist Church Condemned by Eminent Domain

The Redevelopment Agency Board of Long Beach, California voted to condemn the Filipino Baptist Fellowship church building two weeks ago. They claim the building is a "blighted area" and should be removed to make way for condominiums. Many of the town's citizens have testified before the board in an attempt to save their church.

John Eastman of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, is defending the Baptist church. He said after the board's vote: "I had no illusions that we were going to stop the vote, but what was most discouraging yesterday was the utter lack of any evidence on why this was necessary to cure some blighted areas blocks away. They didn’t bother to answer that. That was their legal obligation, and they went ahead and condemned a church anyway."

Eastman may challenge the decision in court, but the city leaders have offered the church other sites in which to meet. Eastman talked about these sites several days ago, "Well, let me tell you about the properties they’ve offered. Most of them were vacant lots. It’s a little hard to hold a church service in a vacant lot. Several of them were leases, not buildings to own. [The church members] own this one, and they want to have a church that they own so they’re not at the whim of a landlord. So you take all those off the table. Almost all of the others were in other parts of the redevelopment area, where they could be forced to move out a couple of years down the road when the city gets around to developing that block. "

The city offers three other sites: a bar and two gas stations.

The Filipino Baptist Fellowship church formed nearly twenty years ago, meeting wherever they could find room. Finally in 2002, the congregation gathered enough money to buy their current building.

Eastman says that he believes the church should be protected under the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

Pastor Roem Agustine of the church said, "We are more united than ever and more focused in our prayers to the Lord." The congregation is obviously sad over the matter, but continue to trust in the Lord, " We know that the Lord will not leave us, and we just don’t know what it is that the Lord has laid out before us. But it’s there and we know it’s there. We continue with our prayers and our hopes up, trusting Him."

I had worries about this sort of thing when Eminent Domain was first introduced in June of last year. The city should not have the right to take away the building from this church and offer them no suitable site to move to. I know how hard it is for a church to relocate ( my old church did it twice over the past eight years). It is a very difficult and annoying procedure... I really feel bad for this congregation, and I hope they can get things settled out with the city.


  • This is happening everywhere. See this CBS article. The
    Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Kelo vs City of New London.

    The below are from this Washington Post article John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority opinion in that "public use" does not limit to bridges or highways but land redistribution. He stated the court should not "second-guess" local governments, Stevens added, noting that "promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government."

    Justice O'Connor wrote for the dissented, "specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."
    As we see, Justice O'Conner was right b/c that is exactly what cities are doing. It is no longer to revitalize the slums but do anything the govt wants. As a result, all of our homes will never be safe. All it takes is for some developer to convince the city council they can collect more taxes and you'll have to move.

    By Blogger Mercy Now, at 5:36 PM  

  • That is so not cool.

    By Blogger Matt A., at 11:48 PM  

  • That is really sad.

    By Blogger Hannah-Liz, at 3:51 AM  

  • Originally, the concept of eminent domain existed to allow the state to replace a building solely for the benefit of the state (i.e., take property for a school or for a state building).

    However, the Supreme Court has construed case law to mean that anything that might benefit the state is fair game. If a church is on property that a casino wants, the state can vote the church away. After all, a casino yields more tax money than a church!

    By the way, MVB: if you will post the url of the background image for your header, I will copy it to my computer and fix it up a bit so that the words are easier to read. Just a thought. . . .

    In Him,


    By Blogger David S. MacMillan III, at 8:20 AM  

  • Dang. Not cool.

    By Blogger Palm boy, at 8:56 AM  

  • Here's the link, David:

    By Blogger MVB, at 10:08 AM  

  • Nice blog!!
    You are now linked on the Moore City News.

    By Blogger David Moore, at 4:29 PM  

  • Hey MVB, it looks like you're gonna win your court case! Woohoo!!

    By Blogger Kaitlin, at 6:04 PM  

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