Denied chance to build church, pastor sues

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2001

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A Christian pastor has sued Volusia County claiming his religious freedom was violated when a county board barred him from building a church near a community where many spiritualists live.

The Rev. John Ferro and Dunamis Community and Outreach Ministries filed a federal suit against the county on May 31, asking a judge to overturn a land development commission ruling that kept the congregation from building a church in Cassadaga, about 35 miles northeast of Orlando.

The proposed site was near the homes of members of the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association, prompting some spiritualists to express concern church members would try to convert them. About 150 people who live in and near the community signed a petition against the proposed church.

Spiritualists believe the dead survive as spirits, which can communicate with the living.

County Council Vice Chairwoman Ann McFall said her decision to vote against the church's request was based on opposition from the community, and was unrelated to religion.

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