In Vienna, Virginia the Church of the Good Shepherd ran afoul of local ordinance inspectors after posting messages on the electronic sign outside its facility. Their sin? They changed the sign’s message more than twice in a day, and that’s illegal in Vienna.
The county offered two choices: permanently limit the sign to two message changes per day or remove it altogether.
At a meeting at the end of July, about two months after the church installed the sign, the county and the congregation couldn’t agree on a compromise. So the church, believing that the First Amendment also applies to the word of God, sued last week in federal court in Alexandria, saying the two-message limit violates the church’s rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. The suit says that the county’s ordinance violates a 2000 law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits zoning rules that place undue burdens on religious institutions.
The local city council is now saying they’ll revisit the ordinance in question, but this just goes to show that there’s no facet of our day-to-day lives too small for the busybodies in government to try and regulate.
It is refreshing, though, to see the congregation fighting this. It’s all too easy to knuckle under to this sort of nonsense, deeming the issue to trivial to fight over or push back against the government too provocative to be good for business/reputation.