fbpx

Town Tries to Shut Down Church Meeting in Barn

A New Hampshire pastor is facing daily fines of up to $500 because he is holding prayer meetings and Bible studies in his home. And that home happens to be a barn.

Around a dozen or so Christians meet inside the home of Howard Kaloogian, pastor of Grace New England Church in the town of Weare.

The congregation meets in the largest room of his home – a giant renovated barn.

The pastor has hosted a number of gatherings in the barn — including a meet-and-greet for presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Hundreds of people turned out.

But it’s the church services that has caused angst of town leaders – and specifically, the zoning enforcement official – who happens to be a self-proclaimed atheist.

“He showed up at Kaloogian’s front door and told him he could no longer use any part of his home, including the barn, for religious assemblies,” reported Decision Magazine.

First Liberty Institute, a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases, filed a federal lawsuit after the pastor was slapped with a “cease and desist” notice from town leaders.

“You are to immediately stop and assembly regarding Grace New England Church,” the notice read. “This Cease and Desist will remain in effect until a site plan is submitted, reviewed and there is a decision made by the Town Planning Board.”

The Town also warned Pastor Kaloogian that unless he was in full compliance of the order, penalties would apply.

“The cease and desist letter indicated that he could face fines ranging from $275 to $500 per day for holding religious gatherings in his home,” First Liberty said.

To be clear homeowners in Weare are allowed to host Super Bowl parties, poker games and book clubs in their homes. But they cannot hold Bible studies or worship services.

“Pastor Kaloogian is being targeted for the religious nature of his small group gatherings,” First Liberty said. “The Town’s actions discriminate on the basis of religion against the Church and hinder Grace New England from the free exercise of its religious freedom granted in the First Amendment and protected by federal law.”

First Liberty attorney Jeremy Dys says the town violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution by blocking the church from meeting.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans meet every day in homes for prayer meetings, Bible studies, book clubs, card games, and other gatherings,” said Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel at First Liberty. “Why would Weare city officials stop this small, Christian congregation from legally doing likewise?”

In my new book, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming: Can America Be Saved?,” I warn about the end goal of the leftists and progressives. First, they want to neutralize the impact of the church in the public square. Then, they want to shut down the churches. After that, comes Communism. Click here to read my book.

Should Christians be allowed to hold Bible studies in their homes?

  • The Todd Starnes Podcast
  • Todd Starnes
  • https://chrt.fm/track/23284G/dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/traffic.omny.fm/d/clips/5e27a451-e6e6-4c51-aa03-a7370003783c/ec639eda-812c-4db1-85c8-acfd010f9fef/b67387fe-c7ab-4823-a6c2-b150013d3fbb/audio.mp3?track=false
  • https://chrt.fm/track/23284G/dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/traffic.omny.fm/d/clips/5e27a451-e6e6-4c51-aa03-a7370003783c/ec639eda-812c-4db1-85c8-acfd010f9fef/b67387fe-c7ab-4823-a6c2-b150013d3fbb/audio.mp3?track=false