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SAN FRANCISCO � A federal jury rejected claims by Redwood Christian School inNorthern California that county government officials violated a federalreligious land use law by withholding permission to build a 650-studentschool on land designated for low density use. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 has beenthe focus of a growing number of lawsuits by churches around the countrychallenging zoning decisions as biased against religion. This was only the second case involving a religious school to raise adiscrimination claim under the federal zoning law. There is a stronglikelihood the ruling, handed down March 2, will be appealed. Derek Gaubatz, attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which hasbacked a number of zoning challenges around the country said, “This is onestep in a long case. We are disappointed the jury did not get to hear allthe evidence and there were serious legal errors on jury instructions.” At issue in many of the church construction cases has been what constitutesan “undue burden” on the free exercise of religion and whether the countyhad a “compelling interest” in forbidding construction.

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