Federal prosecutors sued the California city of Walnut for religious discrimination for denying a Buddhist land-use permit. The Chung Tai Zen Center was denied a conditional-use permit to build and operate a temple on property it owned in 2008. According to federal prosecutors, that denial was the first of its kind in almost three decades.
Among other things, a supporter of the Buddhist temple said that a council member alleged that the temple members would attempt to brainwash students at a middle school down the street.
The permit was rejected on grounds that the center would increase traffic and harm public safety.
The federal complaint notes that a permit was granted for a Catholic church later that year. The Catholic church was larger than the proposed Zen center. It further notes that under federal law, cities and towns are prohibited from discriminating based on religion when they make zoning decisions related to houses of worship.
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