San Francisco, California — February 23, 2022. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the city and county of San Francisco on behalf of Alexander Stewart and Andrew Conway of Christ Forgiveness Ministries (CFM).
In January of 2021, Christ Forgiveness Ministries held a worship service at the Palace of Fine Arts, a local park in San Francisco. During the service, CFM was issued a citation by a park officer who stated that the church would need a permit for a “musical performance” or “concert,” in order to hold their worship services in the park. Although disagreeing with the officer’s interpretation of their event, the church decided to pay the fine but decided to meet for worship in other various parks around San Francisco.
The church continued receiving citations in various parks around the city. Hoping for a solution, Conway, a leader in the church, reached out to the parks department so that the church could meet freely for worship and without threat of citation. The parks department then informed the church that they had to obtain a permit any time they used amplification, had a table, or had more than 50 people at their worship service. After being denied for a permit for one park, they were reassigned to another that would not be suitable without amplification. Left with no other option, Stewart and Conway contacted CRE for help.
In April of 2021, CRE wrote a letter to the city and county of San Francisco, in hopes that they would correct their egregious error that denied the church its right to worship, but San Francisco evaded CRE’s request for relief and reimbursement for the fines. Left with no other option, CRE has filed suit in order to protect the church’s freedom to worship.
“San Francisco has prevented the free exercise of Christ Forgiveness Ministries’ right to worship” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “This is a clear violation of the First Amendment and must be corrected.”
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.