In The Church

Liberty Institute Makes Texas History Interpreting Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA)

Posted May 11th, 2012


Liberty Institute Makes Texas History Interpreting Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA)

Pastor Rick Barr and Philemon Homes, Inc. v. City of Sinton

Background

  • Philemon Homes is a nonprofit, faith-based organization that provides housing and religious instruction to petty offenders released from state custody. The facility is operated by Pastor Richard Barr, and is located across the street from Grace Christian Fellowship in Sinton, Texas.
  • The city of Sinton imposed no restrictions on Philemon Homes when it first began, but in 1999, the city council enacted an ordinance that banned the organization from existing anywhere within the city limits. The city took this drastic action even though no one ever complained about the ministry and a majority of the citizens polled by the city council voted in favor of allowing Philemon Homes to continue.

Current Status

  • After a trial court and appeals court sided with the city, Liberty Institute represented Pastor Barr and Philemon Homes before the Texas Supreme Court and won a great victory for the pastor and ministry, reversing the decision below.
  • A key component of the case was the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (TRFRA), passed in 1999, which provides much needed protection for people of faith, churches, and faith-based organizations.

Impact

  • This case is historic in that it was the first in Texas history to interpret the TRFRA, which has since been used as a nationwide model in protecting religious freedom.

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