Justice Department Settles Claims Against Toms River, New Jersey Over Zoning Code That Restricts Houses of Worship
(STL.News) The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, to resolve allegations that the Township violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by severely restricting where houses of worship can locate within its jurisdiction.
The proposed consent decree, which was filed today in the U.S. District Court of the District of New Jersey and must still be approved by the court, would resolve a lawsuit the United States also filed today alleging that the Township’s zoning code places unreasonable limits on where religious assemblies and institutions may locate, substantially burdens religious exercise and treats religious assemblies and institutions on less than equal terms with nonreligious assemblies and institution.
“RLUIPA protects people of all faiths in their right to exercise their religion,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice has long enforced RLUIPA against zoning regulations that unreasonably burden religious exercise by imposing unwarranted restrictions and conditions on the location of houses of worship.”
“Federal law protects religious communities against unequal treatment and unwarranted burdens,” said Rachael A.