For religious assemblies, both small and large, having a place to gather for worship and carry out other religious activities is fundamental.
The land use provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), enacted in 2000, are designed to protect the basic right to buy, rent, and use land for worship and religious exercise.
On June 13, 2018, the Attorney General announced the Place to Worship Initiative. The goal of the Initiative is to increase enforcement and public awareness of the land use provisions of RLUIPA. These provisions protect places of worship and other religious uses of property (including religious schools and religious social service providers) in the zoning and landmarking process from actions by local governments that:
- Place unjustifiable burdens on religious exercise;
- Treat religious assemblies and institutions worse than nonreligious assemblies and institutions;
- Discriminate against religious assemblies or institutions based on religion or religious denomination; or
- Totally or unreasonably exclude religious assemblies and institutions from a particular municipality or county.
The Initiative seeks to increase the Department's enforcement of RLUIPA, and educate religious leaders, county and municipal officials, and the general public about RLUIPA.