Town lifts ban on worship services in civic center, will pay $53K to settle church lawsuit | 8/20/2019 | Staff
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The town of Edisto Beach South Carolina has lifted a ban on churches holding worship services in the community civic center amid pressure from a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Redeemer Fellowship of Edisto Island.

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The congregation of about 40 people and the municipality filed an agreement Monday to bring an end to a lawsuit filed last year after the Edisto Beach City Council unanimously passed in May a ban on renting out the Edisto Beach Civic Center for “religious worship services.”

“Defendant Town of Edisto Beach covenants that it will treat ‘religious worship services’ on equal terms with other community groups and uses in its Civic Center policies, including its Facility Use Guidelines,” the agreement reads.

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The agreement explains that the town adopted a resolution lifting the ban on “religious worship services” in the civic center last December and vowed that it will not reinstate a prohibition on “religious worship services” at the civic center.

As part of the agreement, the town has to pay Redeemer Fellowship $3,112.85 in compensatory damages, while paying the church’s legal team with the conservative nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom $50,000 in legal costs.

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The church rented out the civic center twice before their application to rent a third time was rejected by the town council. The council amended its facility use rules in 2018 over concerns about separation of church and state.

As a result, Redeemer Fellowship was forced to find other locations to hold worship services.

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“We commend Edisto Beach for lifting its ban, which was inconsistent with the town’s own statement that it welcomes ‘civic, political, business, social groups and others’ to use its civic center,” ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said in a statement.

“Its previous policy that singled out one form of expression — worship —...
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