Unitarian Church Invokes ‘Religious Freedom’ In Legal Battle Over Solar Panels

solar panelsA Unitarian Universalist church in Bedford, Mass. filed suit alleging that officials forbidding the installation of solar panels on the church’s roof were in violation of the church’s religious beliefs.

ThinkProgressJack Jenkins reports:

According to RLUIPA Defense, the First [Unitarian Universalist] Parish in Bedford applied for a “certificate of appropriateness” to install solar panels on its Meetinghouse earlier this year, only to be denied by the town’s Historic District Commission. In response, the congregation filed a complaint on June 27 based on an unusual argument: that the denial violated their congregation’s free exercise of religion, specifically the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Article II of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

The church’s complaint notes that a tenet of the Unitarian faith is “confronting and mitigating evolving environmental threats.”

The complaint continues: “Unitarian Universalists across the nation believe that their religion necessarily involves taking action on a personal, congregational and community level to confine and mitigate mankind’s role in causing and exacerbating global warming.”

“Religious liberty” in legal arguments are typically used by socially conservative Christians opposed to marriage equality and abortion rights. Though the arguments are finding currency for advancing more liberal aims.

For instance, last year the Satanic Temple filed a lawsuit in Missouri alleging that the state’s restrictive abortion laws violated its “religious” tenets of individual liberty and autonomy.

[image: Dave Dugdale, via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0]

Sam Reisman (@thericeman) is a staff editor at Mediaite.

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