Author Topic: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia  (Read 98813 times)

Offline ethercat

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #180 on: January 28, 2012, 21:14 »
I guess maybe they thought they had the "fix" in with Fulton County - and then Sandy Springs went and formed its own city.   :D
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Offline mefree

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #181 on: February 12, 2012, 13:35 »
AMENDED ORDER granting Plaintiff's 89 Motion for Reconsideration and VACATING the Court's 86 Order issued September 30,2011. Plaintiff's 37 Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Count II (equal terms and exclusions and limitations claims), Counts III, and Counts XI -XIII is GRANTED. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to counts Counts I, II (nondiscrimination claim), IV, and Counts V-IX is DENIED because triable issues of fact remain. Defendants' 61 Motion to Strike portions of the Deposition of Nancy Leathers and portions of the Affidavit of Deborah Danos is DENIED. The parties are DIRECTED to engage in mediation of this matter. The parties may mutually agree upon a private mediator or if unable to reach an agreement, the Court will appoint a private mediator from a list of three mediators to be provided to the parties. The parties should notify the Court no later than February 22, 2012, if they are unable to agree upon a mediator. The parties are DIRECTED to explore whether a shared parking arrangement, both on-site and off-site, based on the actual projected growth of the Church's staff and membership, can be agreed upon to allow Plaintiff's requested expansion and modification of the basement area for church use. The mediation in this matter must be completed by April 2, 2012, absent the Court's approval of an extension. The parties are DIRECTED to file their Consolidated Pretrial Order no later than March 16, 2012. Signed by Judge Amy Totenberg on 02/10/2012. (rvb) (Entered: 02/10/2012)
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 13:41 by mefree »
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Offline skydog

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #182 on: February 13, 2012, 09:10 »
The court is tired of the bullshit. It will be interesting to see if any agreement can be made. But while waiting, some thoughts to ponder: do they have the money and membership to continue with this project? I am curious whether the court's comment about an agreement on parking spaces that would accommodate their anticipated expansion is not a subtle slam on the fact that, like dinosaurs, they will soon be extinct.

Offline ethercat

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #183 on: February 13, 2012, 19:42 »
From the federal case docket:

Quote
ORDER DENYING Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; DENYING Defendants' Motion to Strike portions of the Deposition of Nancy Leathers and portions of the Affidavit of Deborah Danos; and GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART Defendants' 43 Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to Counts II, III, Count IX, and Counts XI-XIII; the motion is DENIED as to Counts I and Counts V-VIII. The Parties are DIRECTED to submit briefing, not to exceed 15 pages, on whether Plaintiff's claims are ripe no later than 10/21/2011. Signed by Judge Amy Totenberg on 9/30/2011. (acm) (Entered: 10/03/2011)

Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment:
Then: Denied 
Now: Denied

Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment:
I:
Then: Denied 
Now: Denied

II:
Then: Granted 
Now: Granted for equal terms and exclusions and limitations claims, Denied for nondiscrimination claim

III:
Then: Granted 
Now: Granted

IV:
Then: no ruling
Now: Denied

V:
Then: Denied 
Now: Denied

VI:
Then: Denied 
Now: Denied

VII:
Then: Denied 
Now: Denied

VIII:
Then: Denied 
Now: Denied

IX:
Then: Granted 
Now: Denied

X:
Then: no ruling   
Now: no ruling

XI:
Then: Granted 
Now: Granted

XII:
Then: Granted 
Now: Granted

XIII:
Then: Granted 
Now: Granted

Not a whole lot of difference, is there?   :D

The court is tired of the bullshit. It will be interesting to see if any agreement can be made. But while waiting, some thoughts to ponder: do they have the money and membership to continue with this project?

Realistically speaking, no. 

They ran out on their last lease without paying, although they have made many other excuses as to why that was. 

The building they are currently in is in a not-so-nice area. 

The building this whole dispute is about is deteriorating before our eyes, with nothing being done as to upkeep.  A while back, there were workers there hauling out wet insulation and old batteries (? presumably for the inoperable elevators?), and running huge airing out equipment (presumably because of mold?).  Unfortunately, the photos aren't online anymore.  Maybe if the photographer reads this, he will put them back online.  Please?

Some of the staff members have judgments against them for minor credit card debt, which will probably result in garnishments, if history is anything to go by.

Long time existing members tapped out their savings, retirement, and credit lines to donate in the first place.  And the economy is worse now.  Although, since the bldg. was bought in 2005, it is nearing the 7 year period that will wipe their credit records clean.

Quote
I am curious whether the court's comment about an agreement on parking spaces that would accommodate their anticipated expansion is not a subtle slam on the fact that, like dinosaurs, they will soon be extinct.

Their postulated expansion?  Or anticipated expansion as a regular person would anticipate?

Are judges allowed to look around for info about the subjects of their cases?  I know jurors are not supposed to, but does that apply to judges also?


http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/RLUIPA/2011-09-30_JudgesOrder.pdf
Pages 3 and 4:
Quote
The Church serves a state-wide congregation of 600 members, 100 of whom are currently active. It has a staff of 20 volunteer and paid employees.

Pages 16 and 17 footnote 10:
Quote
It is undisputed that the property was purchased with the express purpose of facilitating the growth of the organization. Itwas clearly the expectation of both the Plaintiff and the City that the membership of the Church would grow beyond its current active enrollment of 100 parishioners. It is not clear how the Parking Studies related to that anticipated growth or to address the undisputed fact that, as an Ideal Org, Plaintiff expected to have 100 staff members on site at all times.

It seems they expect to grow by 5x (is that the 5.4x expansion, St. Hill size scieno-meme kicking in?).

20/100/600 --> 100/500/3000

That would be a LOT of people even in that building.  100 staff on site at all times would take the majority of the available spaces - she may just be pointing out to them that if they grow the way they postulate anticipate, there will not be enough parking. 

I love it when they get caught out by their lies.   ;D

I wonder if Dillard and Galloway are getting tired of them.   ;)

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Offline skydog

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #184 on: February 14, 2012, 10:19 »
Are judges allowed to look around for info about the subjects of their cases?  I know jurors are not supposed to, but does that apply to judges also?

Judges are only supposed to look at properly admitted evidence and the facts that have been stipulated to by the parties. They may also take judicial notice of other facts which covers a wide variety of matters-pending cases, laws of other jurisdictions, etc. Each judge has his or her own world view which affects how they process and filter this evidence. For example, because of our belief that the church of $cientology is an abusive cult, we tend to believe people like Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder, Debbie Cook, and others when they speak out about their experiences. But if you watch the videos of Mike Rinder from his days as church spokesperson, his denials of the same type of behavior are very credible.

The point I am making is that they are all liars in some way, shape, or form. Which version do you want to believe? One of my biggest complaints about this organization is that they begin the "dead agent" pack as soon a person walks through the door. Sea Org members provide a detailed history of every transgression they have ever committed (or thought about committing) and they are careful to get video of the person telling how wonderful the church is before leaving. By doing so, they create in their dissidents "witness incredibility" in anticipation of future litigation. This practice is in itself a form of "consciousness of guilt" on the part of the institution as they are beginning to find out.

Offline mefree

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #185 on: February 14, 2012, 19:56 »

For example, because of our belief that the church of $cientology is an abusive cult, we tend to believe people like Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder, Debbie Cook, and others when they speak out about their experiences. But if you watch the videos of Mike Rinder from his days as church spokesperson, his denials of the same type of behavior are very credible.

Except for that bit about Lisa McPherson in the last 10 seconds of this video:
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2029146/mike_rinder_squirms_over_the_death_of_lisa_mcpherson/

Quote
The point I am making is that they are all liars in some way, shape, or form. Which version do you want to believe?
  {=lies=}

Quote
One of my biggest complaints about this organization is that they begin the "dead agent" pack as soon a person walks through the door. Sea Org members provide a detailed history of every transgression they have ever committed (or thought about committing) and they are careful to get video of the person telling how wonderful the church is before leaving. By doing so, they create in their dissidents "witness incredibility" in anticipation of future litigation. This practice is in itself a form of "consciousness of guilt" on the part of the institution as they are beginning to find out.

What a trap!
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Offline skydog

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #186 on: February 15, 2012, 07:00 »
Except for that bit about Lisa McPherson in the last 10 seconds of this video:
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2029146/mike_rinder_squirms_over_the_death_of_lisa_mcpherson/


Good find. They train so hard to answer the unanswerable. Notice the counter-attack on Ken Dandar. Complete flunk on Rinder at the end. I have to say that I like Mike Rinder.  He is mostly calm, articulate and polished with that Aussie accent. I am glad he is standing up against the organization today. He was the successor to Vaughn Young, who was also an incredible spokesperson for the church until he blew. At the end of his life, he was also an outspoken critic. (I am detecting a pattern here).

All that changed with Tommy Davis-clearly a little boy dressed in a man's clothing and unqualified for the post. I notice that Karen Pouw limits her responses to written denials and attacks. There are so many attacks now, that Pouw doesn't have the time to drill TR-Lie to the end phenomena. The little Dutch boy (Miscavige) is learning that there are too many holes in the dikes for his fingers to plug.

Sorry, don't mean to divert the thread.

Offline mefree

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #187 on: February 15, 2012, 07:30 »
Quote
The little Dutch boy (Miscavige) is learning that there are too many holes in the dikes for his fingers to plug.

He does seem to have his hands full, ATM.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 19:39 by mefree »
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Offline ethercat

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #188 on: February 15, 2012, 17:46 »
Judges are only supposed to look at properly admitted evidence and the facts that have been stipulated to by the parties. They may also take judicial notice of other facts which covers a wide variety of matters-pending cases, laws of other jurisdictions, etc. Each judge has his or her own world view which affects how they process and filter this evidence.

Thanks, skydog.  I was just wondering how much Judge Totenberg might know, beyond what has been included in this case.  Of course, just this case by itself, and the related transcripts from the zoning meetings, are enough to give her a fairly accurate picture of their behavior and expectations.

Woody Galloway for the church in the zoning meetings: They're not a traditional church; they don't have traditional services on Sunday.

Nancy Leathers in deposition: They're not a traditional church, so we applied a different formula to the parking requirements.

Scientology: Bawww!  They said we weren't a traditional church; they're discriminating!


No problem on diverting the thread.  I'm sure it will swing back around to on-topic when we have new developments in the case.  Meanwhile, it's nice chatting with you.
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Offline mefree

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #189 on: February 19, 2012, 10:33 »
Just caught some local coverage on WSBtv. Andrea Cantrell Jones and a few of the Sandy Springs residents were interviewed.

Andrea Cantrell Jones: (paraphrasing) Sandy Springs approved the occupancy of the building. but limited the usable space due to parking constraints.

Neighbors: Voiced their concerns related to high volume traffic situation on Roswell Rd and the dangerous intersection at Glenridge where Idle Org is located and small amount of parking available at church.

Reporter: (again, paraphrasing) Judge Totenberg has ordered both parties to mediation and granted the church's motion for reconsideration of summary judgement.

Will post video when and if it becomes available.
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Offline skydog

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #190 on: February 19, 2012, 12:15 »
I can't understand why the neighbors would worry about accidents-scientologists are the only ones that can help in those situations. ;D

Offline ethercat

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #191 on: February 22, 2012, 17:57 »
skydog, they're probably afraid Tom Cruise will show up, along with a bunch of media people, and his best friend, DM.

Here's an article I saw posted to WWP:
http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2012/02/court-says-now-scientology-church-can.html

Quote
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Court Says Now Scientology Church Can Pursue Discrimination In Zoning Claim

In Church of Scientology of Georgia v. City of Sandy Springs, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19087 (ND GA, Feb. 10. 2012), a Georgia federal district court granted a motion for reconsideration of its earlier zoning decision (see prior posting). The earlier decision held that triable issues of fact remain on plaintiff's First Amendment claims and its RLUIPA claim that the city's action posed a substantial burden on its religious exercise, but dismissed its RLUIPA discrimination, equal terms and exclusion claims. In its new opinion, the court held that it now believes a question of fact exists as to whether Sandy Springs discriminated against the Church of Scientology on the basis of its religious denomination when, in granting conditional approval of its rezoning application, it refused to allow expansion of the church's existing building based on a lack of sufficient on-site parking. In an amended opinion, the court said:

    Based on the entirety of the evidence in the record as more clearly demonstrated by Plaintiff in its motion for reconsideration, in conjunction with new, unchallenged evidence provided in the briefing on ripeness that Plaintiff originally sought a parking variance but was informed by a member of the City's planning staff that no variance was needed because the Church met the City's minimum parking requirement, the Court finds that Plaintiff has now sufficiently demonstrated evidence from which a possible inference of discrimination could be made.
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Offline tikk

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #192 on: February 23, 2012, 12:32 »
[Reposted from WWP]

Okay, I masochistically slugged my way through the 97-page decision, the result of which is testimony to what overlawyering the living shit out of a RLUIPA case can get you. Judge Amy Totenberg (sister of NPR's Nina Totenberg, btw) found "triable issues of fact" after having apparently been presented with an exhaustive survey of prior decisions by the same zoning board involving other churches, which survey sought to show that Church X and Y were treated more favorably than Scientology.

The court found two instances in particular as raising issues of fact regarding disparate treatment. The board had permitted both Beth Tefillah and Lutheran Church of the Apostles a variance to utilize a shared-parking arrangement--even though, and this is why this finding is maddening, Scientology never requested a shared-parking arrangement (please correct me if I'm wrong Ethercat)--which the board did not also extend to Scientology. The decision pores over the differences of each case, and the board's application of bases for its actions (e.g., decision to base parking requirements on square footage or fixed seating, whether seating is actually "fixed," etc.) and even admits that such distinctions may ultimately be "marginal or meaningless" but are nevertheless triable.

I don't know enough to suggest that these distinctions are in fact "marginal and meaningless" but they're at least of the type to be described as razor thin; cases finding discriminatory intent usually have much more to build on. But this is as much RLUIPA's fault as anyone's, as it stacks the deck for religious entities so favorably that there are bound to be inferences lying around the numerous on-the-record board hearings with which to make a federal case.

And as Muldrake rightly suggested on the other Sandy Springs thread [on WWP], cities are just out-armed in these disputes; if a plaintiff is going to spend endlessly to litigate over some parking spaces, at some point it becomes economically unfeasible for cities to go toe-to-toe, especially when the law starts with the presumption that a religion is being discriminated against when you don't give it everything it wants.

Offline mefree

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #193 on: February 23, 2012, 13:06 »
Thanks for posting, tikk.
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Offline tikk

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #194 on: February 23, 2012, 16:13 »
I have a general non-legal question about this case, because the more I think about what's going on here, the less I understand it. Most US orgs are struggling to get by, struggling to send money uplines on a weekly basis, per most insider accounts, and yet the Sandy Springs org has deep enough pockets to engage in fairly costly litigation. So I'm curious if anyone 'on the ground' there, so to speak, can offer their opinion as to why so much time, energy, and money has been invested into obtaining this particular variance. I can't think of a single instance where parking has been a problem for a Scientology org, ever; so I'm assuming that parking is only the stated reason. I acknowledge that Scientology often acts on postulated traffic--how else to explain Clearwater's massive and soon-to-remain-empty SuperPower Building? But this is just an org, so I'm real curious if anyone can offer an opinion as to why this org in particular needs to expand, and possibly where the money is coming from to make this all happen. It's not as if every org across the country is abusing RLUIPA to expand.

Offline ethercat

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #195 on: February 23, 2012, 18:09 »
We have wondered the same things you are wondering, and I have a few ideas about it - no real insider knowledge, however.  First, let me say a little about the parking, since I have gathered some info about it, and later this evening, I will return to speculate about the things you wonder about.

There were two applications, an initial and then an amended application.  The intial application is here: http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/RLUIPA/InitialApplication.pdf and a slightly larger file containing a bit more is here: http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/RLUIPA/InitialApplication2.pdf .

In the initial application, there was no mention of adding a floor.  The existing 1st floor was to be used as the chapel/sanctuary, but there was a little problem.  The floor load rating was not what was required. 

The initial variance requests filed on March 2, 2009 were:
Setback violations of existing eastern boundary with USPS property
Acceptance of existing offsite parking area on the east side
Acceptance of existing quantity of exterior parking spaces
Acceptance of existing quantity of parking lot landscape islands
Acceptance of existing location of storm retention pond & brick wall
Acceptance of location of existing exterior brick sign
Acceptance of existing 1st floor structural loading
Allowance for assembly function use

Page 6 of http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/RLUIPA/InitialApplication.pdf states more specifically what they would like to do in the way of renovation.  "The scope of renovation will include a new roof, minor exterior repairs, and new interior fit out of the 43,916 square feet.  The site work will be limited to minor patching and repairs, landscape cleanup, and jurisdictional requirements over the 1.78 acre site."

It then goes on to discuss the other variances being requested, and emphasizes that they want to avoid excessive rework and unnecessary expense.

It addresses the floor load issue this way:
"Finally, the First Floor entry area has a live load capacity of 75 pounds per square foot versus a code required loading of 100 pounds per square foot.  Subject to approval, the area could be posted with signs indicating a reduced live load capacity in lieu of the substantial renovation required to further reinforce the slab."

This packet also includes documentation on a parking easement granted by the US  Post Office, their neighbor to the east. 

Page 4 of http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/RLUIPA/InitialApplication2.pdf has the Environmental Site Analysis and states:

"The property is 1.78 acres.  It ends about 5 feet from the eastern side of the Building.  The remaining eastern portion of the CSI site, approximately 65 feet wide by 400 feet long, is owned by the United States Postal Service.  An existing easement permits the usage of approximate .6 acre that is east of the building and is owned by the USPS."

There are 31 spaces in this easement. 

It also phrases the part quoted from the initial application in a slightly different way: "The Project includes the renovation and rehabilitation of an existing building of approximately 43,916 square feet on four levels."  It then goes on to repeat the verbiage from the application.

The basement level is an underground parking garage, open to the elements on one side.  Neither of these state plainly that they are requesting to close in the parking garage and include it in the interior renovations.  There are 30 parking spaces in the basement parking garage.  In addition to the easement parking and the garage parking, there are 50 spaces.

By the 2nd or 3rd meeting, apparently an amended application had been filed, which placed the sanctuary on the to-be-enclosed basement floor instead of the structurally unsuitable first floor.  I don't immediately see a copy of that on my site or my hard drive; perhaps I have it somewhere, perhaps not - at this point, I don't see the value in looking for it.  At any rate, I don't see enclosing a basement garage as a "minor exterior repair" and I doubt Sandy Springs did either.

During the meetings, Galloway proposed that they lease offsite parking for when they held events, and otherwise the building occupancy would be limited to some number of people.  Sandy Springs did not want the chore of monitoring how many people were in the building at any given time, nor did they want to impose that chore on the local citizens who were in a position to see the building.  They also (to the best of my memory) did not want to have to keep up with monitoring the offsite lease, making sure it was renewed and not canceled, etc.

The shared parking arrangement with the PO, the easement, was never at issue.  It was always included in calculations.  Without it, and without the underground parking spaces, there were only 50 spaces.  There were a total of 111: 50 on-site surface spaces, 31 PO easement spaces, and 30 underground garage spaces.

I also recall Galloway saying something about being told by someone at the planning office that they didn't need to ask for a variance on something - I don't recall if it was parking or not.  Galloway said a lot of conflicting things during the numerous meetings, of which there were only supposed to be 4, and generally seemed to be making it up as he went along (and this was 3 years ago, so my memory of some things is fuzzy).  Of course, the possibility exists that he was being micromanaged by the "church" and that he is not really a natural liar or incompetent lawyer.  He does seem to be highly regarded in the metro Atlanta area. 

I hope somewhere in there is enough clarification about parking...   I will be back later to offer my opinions and speculations about your general non-legal question. 
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 18:16 by ethercat »
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Offline ethercat

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #196 on: February 23, 2012, 22:35 »
I have a general non-legal question about this case, because the more I think about what's going on here, the less I understand it. Most US orgs are struggling to get by, struggling to send money uplines on a weekly basis, per most insider accounts, and yet the Sandy Springs org has deep enough pockets to engage in fairly costly litigation. So I'm curious if anyone 'on the ground' there, so to speak, can offer their opinion as to why so much time, energy, and money has been invested into obtaining this particular variance. I can't think of a single instance where parking has been a problem for a Scientology org, ever; so I'm assuming that parking is only the stated reason. I acknowledge that Scientology often acts on postulated traffic--how else to explain Clearwater's massive and soon-to-remain-empty SuperPower Building? But this is just an org, so I'm real curious if anyone can offer an opinion as to why this org in particular needs to expand, and possibly where the money is coming from to make this all happen. It's not as if every org across the country is abusing RLUIPA to expand.

As I mentioned earlier, this is something we've wondered about also.  I don't think this org is different from the others in struggling to send money uplines, nor do I think the local members are doing any better financially than those of other orgs. 

There are currently 3 large cases working their way through the courts here: this RLUIPA case, Waterford Park vs. CoS of Ga., and Desmond vs. Narconon.  One relatively small one, Hanchett vs. Narconon.  There also are or have recently been individual cases against some of the members: CitiFinancial Services, Inc. vs. Deborah Danos, Discover Bank vs. Douglas D. Mackay (case #11M02909, if the link doesn't work), some garnishments, and a Homeowner's Association foreclosure for Mary Rieser.  And those are just the ones I know about off the top of my head.

The members with businesses basically keep each other's businesses alive - dentists, chiropractors, accountants, marketing and PR, etc., all doing business round robin, with just enough cash flow from the outside world to keep from going under, kind of like a small town that's isolated from the larger cities.  Just my opinion, of course.

I believe your suspicions are correct about parking just being the stated reason.  I believe the real issue is having a sanctuary.  As shown in my previous post, the sanctuary cannot be on the first floor, and must be in the basement.  The basement must be enclosed if it is to contain a sanctuary.  Why is a sanctuary so important to a church that does not worship?  The IRS.  One of the IRS's weightier conditions for "church" status is that the church must hold regular, real world, assemblies.  If they do not have the sanctuary, they cannot have "church services" and, therefore, potentially jeopardize their church status.

Condensed version: http://www.irs.gov/charities/churches/article/0,,id=155746,00.html
Complete guide: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf

http://www.christian-attorney.net/what_is_a_church_irs_501c3.html
Quote
...in many cases, the key factor in whether or not an organization is classified as a church is the presence or absence of a congregation.  In other words, is the organization's membership a coherent group of individuals or families that regularly join together (primarily in person rather than by television or radio) to accomplish religious purposes or shared beliefs?

Why is this one org so important?  I think it's the only Class V org in the Southeast.  Nashville has a Celebrity Centre but not an org.  There may be a mission in one of the Carolinas, but it may have closed.  Nothing in Alabama, I don't think there's an org or mission in Mississippi, there may a mission in Louisiana; I do not think there's an org.  Virginia?  I don't think so.  There are orgs in Florida, but Florida is not really considered a part of the (capital S) South.

And where's the money coming from?  I think it's coming from CSI.  It just about has to be.

There also may be something hinky with the purchase of the building, though I have no actual proof of that, just a gut feeling: http://forum.reachingforthetippingpoint.net/index.php/topic,313.msg1981.html#msg1981

What I find curious is that while they're spending all this money on a RLUIPA case, the building rots as the case drags on.  In the end, will the building even be worth renovating?  Or is that the plan, to let the building rot, so it has to be rebuilt from the ground up, with new donations?

Of course, it may be all David Miscavige's ego - he can't stand to let the "wogs" win.   :D
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Offline tikk

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #197 on: February 24, 2012, 09:31 »
Thanks Ethercat for the thoughtful thoughts.

With regard to the IRS, I don't think that's a real consideration of theirs. I think you're probably reading a bit much into the IRS guidelines. For one thing, that ship has sailed; the IRS has zero interest in scrutinizing the religiosity of the mother ship(s) much less individual orgs, regardless of their stature in the organization. One could see this reluctance in the Sklar trial where the IRS so fiercely protected the secrecy of their settlement agreement with Scientology (regardless of it having been ostensibly published by the WSJ, it was a matter of being admissible evidence or not).

Besides the lack of political will, the guidelines you cite aren't applicable to the question of how a church loses the 501(c)(3) status it has already gained, but rather to the initial Form 1023 question of identifying an entity as a "church" (which are presumptively tax exempt, unlike non-profits which must undergo a more diligent inquiry) at the outset. The risk of losing already-gained exempt status hinges rather on the organization exhibiting a "non-tax-exempt purpose" (e.g., inurement, political activity, public policy-violating activity). The IRS would lose any subsequent litigation where it revoked the exempt status of a "church" because the church failed to meet that listed cosmetic, non-inclusive criteria.

Scientology goes to great lengths to cloak itself in recognizable religious trappings but that has everything to do with its sales pitch and very little to do with keeping the IRS at bay.

Offline ethercat

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #198 on: February 24, 2012, 11:26 »
Scientology goes to great lengths to cloak itself in recognizable religious trappings but that has everything to do with its sales pitch and very little to do with keeping the IRS at bay.

You may be right about the IRS, but for whatever reason, the whole motivation for this RLUIPA suit seems to be focused around having the sanctuary.  They could occupy the building as it is now, if they didn't feel so strongly about having the additional floor - and the only reason for that seems to be the sanctuary, and the invented required size for an Ideal Org.  Well, let me qualify that - they could occupy the building now if it weren't in such a state of deterioration. 

They have made statements about the expense of having the plans redone for 3 floors instead of 4, yet with the expense of the RLUIPA suit, it would probably be more cost effective to redo the plans.

For whatever reason, the sanctuary seems very important to them, but it may be something as simple as that people in this area expect churches to have sanctuaries, which would be a sales factor as you mentioned.
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Offline skydog

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #199 on: February 25, 2012, 08:25 »
I hate to be cynical but my thought is that this lawsuit has nothing to do with religion. From the city's standpoint, the issue has to do with parking; from the church's standpoint, it is about bullying someone that dare defy it. As Tikk suggests, these types of suits (RLUIPA) do little more than generate billable hours over which lawyers are more than happy to fight over as until the dollars dry up. The reconsideration was, in my opinion, a clear indication that the magistrate/judge wants these parties to come to the table and hammer out an agreement.

Due process requires this, but it wastes everyone's time and money.