Why put a church in this position?

Editor, Advertiser:
Last Saturday’s issue of the Advertiser included a public notice indicating that Juniata Township will hold a Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. to conduct a “Site Plan Review for the Alleluia-Romanian Pentecostal Church of God to establish a church at 5344 West Sanilac Rd.” The precedent we are setting by holding these sorts of agendas in our political structure is an extremely dangerous one, and it should be a topic of key importance on the minds of many.
Why are our churches being asked to disclose their plans to our township politicians? Why are township leaders feeling entitled to review any church’s plans? Where did they get such an authority to “approve” or “disapprove” of the plans our churches have made for themselves? At what point did We The People grant unto our government such grand authority?
When our early pioneers embarked to settle upon the American continent, they did so for a clear purpose—to escape religious persecution and worship the Almighty God in the manner of their choosing. When we declared our independence from Great Britain, we asserted a very strong message that our rights are not dealt and delegated unto us under the choosings of government, but rather that we “are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights”.
We must stand strong in asserting that no agency of government shall ever be granted an authority to review the plans of a church for the decisions of approving or disapproving them. Such a fundamental separation is necessary to the preservation of the most key and essential liberty upon which our nation was founded, that of our First Amendment.
When I inquired as to the agenda for this meeting, Juniata Township Clerk Thomas Hile said a church is allowed by right in this area, but a site plan review is required by the Juniata Township Zoning Ordinance to address health and safety concerns.
If the township is so concerned about safety, where is its fire department? Where is its police department? Where was the township’s concern for safety when this church building was broken into, vandalized, and stripped of its copper wiring and plumbing to be sold for scrap value by thieves last year?
Does Juniata Township really believe that this church, its members, and its leaders wouldn’t look out for their own “health and safety”? Does the township really feel that the parents within this church wouldn’t be competent in looking out for the health and safety of their own children?
If we allow Juniata Twp. to hold such a grand authority, we set a precedent for 16,504 other townships across our nation to likewise deem for themselves the authority to approve or deny the plans of every church in our nation.
Last weekend, many in their Dearborn congregation who contributed funds to purchase this building over a year ago finally had a chance to come up and see it for the first time. For many this was one of the few opportunities they have had to get out of the city and experience the beautiful atmosphere we, as residents of the Thumb take for granted. They had a baptismal service in the pond out back.
America is already caught in not following its plans—for it promised these immigrants before they came here, that in doing so they would be free to worship as they wish and no longer need to seek the government’s permission for every least little thing.
Who are we worshiping anyway? Are we putting the faith of our health and our safety into the hands of our God, whose spirit may inspire us to do that which is right, and caution us at things which are wrong or perilous? Or do we place the faith of our health and safety into the hands of our government?
Regardless of what conflict existed between the township and the building’s previous owner, that is all history. This church purchased the property over a year ago, and if the township had any issues with them doing so it should have voiced them back then. The township has already dropped the ball on this matter, and as such it should drop the matter all together in my opinion.
I invite all members of the community to join me at Juniata Township Hall on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. to show our support in welcoming the Alleluia Church of God into our community. These are good Christian people. The only difference between these families and our own is that communism only fell in Romania in 1989, and it has only been in the recent history of our current generation that these people were able to follow in the footsteps of our founding fathers, in pursuit of their own freedom—a freedom we promised would be waiting for them here in our constitution, a freedom we ourselves seem to have tragically forgotten about.
With my deepest regard in the cause for Liberty,
Jeff Phillips
President, Essential Liberty Guild of Tuscola County

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