LANSING, Mich. (Christian Examiner) – A Michigan church and health clinic ministry filed a lawsuit Oct. 14 against the Lansing Housing Commission (LHC) for refusing to allow the church to use a community room for worship, even though other religious organizations are granted access to the space.
Of particular concern to Eleanore Kue, a medical doctor and the pastor of His Healing Hands Church and health clinic, is the impending winter weather that will keep LHC community members from attending any services in nearby open-air parks, which is where the church has been temporarily meeting.
"The government should not single out a faith-based community group for this kind of illegal and unconstitutional discrimination," said the church's attorney, Timothy W. Denney, who is affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, LDH allows numerous religious and community organizations access to the community rooms on its public housing sites, where His Healing Hands provided a meal and a worship service for residents at the Hildebrandt Park and LaRoy Froh Townhouses locations until they were told they were not allowed to use the rooms for religious activities.
"Due to oncoming Michigan cold weather, the outside open-air meetings the Church conducts will become difficult and impossible and risk irreparable damage and/or injury to members and attendees who are forced to stand outside in cold or wet weather," the complaint reads, adding that parents of children who had previously attended meetings have been keeping them home because of the outdoor temperature.
In addition, traffic noises have disturbed numerous meetings in the parks, and a neighbor once turned on three lawnmowers nearby to disrupt Kue's speaking.
In a Sept. 21 letter to Denney, the attorney for LDH wrote, "The Lansing Housing Commission has had a long established policy that no religious services/programs may be held in its community buildings, consequently, the Housing Commission is not going to allow His Healing Hands Church to use its community center for religious purposes."
Among the other organizations permitted to use the community rooms are a Baptist church, a Catholic church, a Christian youth camp ministry, and the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, according to the complaint.
His Healing Hands clinic is a nonprofit organization that provides medical care for the uninsured at a steeply discounted rate.
"My biggest hope to get out of the clinic is to see the level of healthcare in this community be raised," said Kue upon the clinic's opening in 2009. "I would like to see people who are home, they are getting sicker and sicker, be able to come here and get the care that they deserve."
It is part of the ministry philosophy of His Healing Hands to meet people where their needs are, which is why services are held in the public housing sites for people who cannot afford transportation to the church location.
His Healing Hands has filed for a preliminary injunction to allow them to use the community meeting space for their ministry while the case is being decided.