Florida city spies on churches, demands licenses

A Florida city’s code-enforcement division, which was subject in 2013 to a scathing audit for falsifying inspections, employing unqualified inspectors and failing to clean up nuisance properties, has now decided to go after churches.

The City of Lake Worth, in Palm Beach County, has taken the position all churches are required to obtain a “business license” to conduct worship services. It is using city employees to covertly attend services and acquire evidence, including video, “for future court presentation.”

City-code enforcement officer, Gerard A. Coscia – wearing a hoodie – was sent to the Common Ground Church on Feb. 9 to clandestinely film the worship service, reported the Examiner.

The following Sunday, Coscia returned to the church, which meets in the Coffee Grounds Coffee Bar, handed his business card to pastor Mike Olive and told him, “This Sunday is your last Sunday.”

Olive said he had never received a notice from the city for any violation of any local law, and only learned a non-compliance affidavit had been issued when a church employee checked the city website.

“I inspected the property and found the following violations: Business-rental property found without a current City of Lake Worth business license, specifically to operate as a church, or a house of worship,” Coscia wrote in his case narrative….

But Common Grounds Coffee Bar does have a business license, Olive told the Lake Worth Tribune. He should know – he owns the business. And the site is not a church – it’s a coffee shop that leases space to a church every Sunday morning in the same manner other city restaurants and businesses rent their back rooms to neighborhood groups for their meetings. The Common Grounds site has….

By Jay Baggett – WND –

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Author: David McElroy

David Allen McElroy has served as a journalist and a chaplain to hospitals and nursing homes. He continues writing on the world-wide web and has much archived in the forum at BreakingAllTheRules.com. He has a B.A. in Bible from Fresno Pacific College. David stands for Truth, Justice, & Liberty in Christ's Love!