- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2020

Federal prosecutors slapped a lawsuit on a small, mostly American Indian community in northeastern Nebraska for allegedly unduly restricting the construction of a church for an evangelical congregation.

The Light of the World Gospel Ministries in Walthill, a village of fewer than 1,000 people on the Omaha Reservation, sought to build a church on property it owned downtown, as its worship attendance grew from 130 to more than 200, exceeding the current space’s capacity. But village elders denied the permit, while approving construction of a library and education center.

The lawsuit details complaints local residents have made to the village board over the church’s presence downtown.

The Department of Justice says the multi-ethnic congregation is facing discrimination under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

“Walthill is obligated to treat religious assemblies and institutions on equal terms with nonreligious assemblies and institutions,” said Joe Kelly, U.S. attorney for the District of Nebraska. “This complaint reflects our commitment to protect the religious liberties of all people in this district.”

On its website, Light of the World says it wants to see a “spiritual awakening of pure biblical religion in the area” and started the church to evangelize to the local Omaha tribe.

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