Church Claims Religious Discrimination by Colorado Town in Homeless Shelter Crackdown

By: Georgia | Published: Jun 20, 2024

In Castle Rock, Colorado, a local church is taking a stand in federal court. 

They’re challenging the town’s decision to shut down their makeshift RV shelter for the homeless, sparking a fiery debate over religious liberty and local zoning laws.

Church's RV Haven Under Threat

The church set up RVs on their 54-acre property to house homeless individuals—a quiet, distant setting near the Rockies. 

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Multiple RVs parked in a spacious RV park with trees in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

But last December, the town claimed this violated zoning ordinances and demanded they stop, according to First Liberty Institute.

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First Amendment Rights at Stake

The church’s attorney, Jeremy Dys of First Liberty Institute, claims the town’s actions violate the church’s constitutional rights. 

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A contemporary church building with a simple cross on top against a clear blue sky

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“Every law in this country is subject to the Constitution, and we have said that the government has to act very carefully if any of its laws and its rules run up against the free exercise of religion and federal law,” Dys told Fox News Digital.

Minimal Impact, Maximum Benefit

Despite serving fewer than ten people over several years, the church’s efforts have been significant for those involved. 

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nside a church showing wooden pews and a modern altar with a large cross

Source: Josh Eckstein/Unsplash

“It’s a very minimal ministry, meaning there has been less than ten people or so they’ve gone through that in a period of five to eight years,” Dys explained, puzzled by the town’s resistance.

More Than Just Shelter

Beyond just a place to sleep, The Rock church provides extensive community support to those in need.

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olunteers wearing gloves distributing food items like bananas and canned goods to people

Source: Joel Muniz/Unsplash

This includes financial aid, food, and job training—essential services aiming to uplift rather than just sustain.

A Cold Response to Warmth

First Liberty Institute’s press release criticized the town’s approach, saying, “It has essentially decided that it’s illegal to offer temporary shelter to the homeless, but okay to let them freeze on the frigid cold sidewalks.” 

A makeshift tent encampment on a city street with various belongings scattered around

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This stark comparison illustrates the severity of the town’s measures against the church’s sheltering efforts.

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Perseverance Amidst Persecution

Despite the town’s crackdown, the church persists in doing what they believe is right. 

A group of people holding hands in a prayer circle, focusing on their clasped hands

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This commitment, however, has led to further complications, including threats to revoke their coffee shop’s license.

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Interference and Intimidation

Dys highlighted further disruptions caused by the town.

Silhouette of a large cross standing against a dramatic cloudy sky

Source: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

He said, “They’ve also sort of interfered with the relationship the church has with the Red Cross. They’ve sort of interfered with the relationship the church has with the county to help other people out.” 

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Legal Battle for the Less Fortunate

The lawsuit seeks to protect the church’s right to help the needy without interference. 

Volunteers wearing gloves and packing meals in a food bank, focusing on hands and food containers

Source: Joel Muniz/Unsplash

“People in the community depend on the church’s ministry,” says First Liberty, stressing the importance of these services to vulnerable groups like single mothers.

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Town's Tight-Lipped Defense

Castle Rock’s response was brief and to the point: “The Town has retained defense counsel to rigorously defend the zoning authority of communities.” 

A large homeless encampment with tents and scattered belongings located under an overpass

Source: Wikimedia Commons

No further comment was provided on the ongoing litigation.

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A Nationwide Issue?

This isn’t an isolated incident.

A neon-lit cross on top of a small brick church tower, illuminated at dusk against a darkening sky

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Dys appeared on Fox News discussing similar issues faced by Dad’s Place Church in Ohio, spotlighting a national conversation about churches and homelessness.

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What Lies Ahead for Castle Rock?

As the lawsuit proceeds, all eyes are on Castle Rock to see how this clash between religious rights and municipal regulations will unfold. 

Inside a church featuring high wooden beams and a bright cross illuminated by sunlight filtering through the structure

Source: Jeremiah Higgins/Unsplash

Will the church prevail, or will the town’s zoning laws stand firm? 

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