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Feds sue city of Walnut for religious discrimination

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 13, 2010 | 5:30 pm

Caught Frank Stoltze talking on KPCC this afternoon about how the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a religious discrimination lawsuit today against the city of Walnut. Looks like the federal government doesn’t think the small city in eastern Los Angeles County gave a fair shake to an application for a Buddhist temple.

From KPCC:

The complaint alleges that Walnut treated the Chung Tai Zen Center’s application to build a temple differently than it did applications from other religious groups. It refers to the city’s approval of a permit for a Catholic church that, when completed, will be larger than the temple. The complaint also says that Walnut hasn’t denied a permit to build a house of worship in nearly three decades.

In a press release, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said “no faith should be singled out for inferior treatment when it seeks to build a house of worship in compliance with local zoning laws.”

That is no minor blip in local politics. It’s also not shocking. Walnut is a long way from Apple Valley, but it’s not totally unusual for religious minorities to run up against old-fashioned religious NIMBYs. Even when the minorities aren’t Muslim.

What’s odd, though, is that a Buddhist temple would be discriminated against in a community that, according to the Census, is 60 percent Asian American—and whose city council has the same demographic makeup.

Obviously, Asian American doesn’t mean Buddhist. But I would have expected a lawsuit like this more in, say, San Bernardino.

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