Church Protests That Bike Lane Would Impede Their Free Practice of Religion

Illustration for article titled Church Protests That Bike Lane Would Impede Their Free Practice of Religion

The District of Columbia, like so many urban areas across America, is currently working on installing some bike lanes. Well, one church doesn’t like the traffic clusterfuck they believe one proposed lane would unleash, and in fact they’re pretty sure it’s an infringement on their right to practice their religion freely.


The Washington Post reports that the United House of Prayer believes a bike lane would interfere with “its constitutionally protected rights of religious freedom and equal protection of the laws.” Their argument:

The church, represented by a lawyer, wrote in a letter to DDOT, which WashCycle blog obtained and reported on, that the proposals along Sixth Street are “unsupportable, unrealistic and particularly problematic for traffic and parking.” The church, which says it has more than 800 congregants, notes that the Convention Center is in the area, which already exacerbates traffic and parking issues. Consequently, as many car lanes and parking space as possible are needed on the street.

The parking loss would place an unconstitutionally undue burden on people who want to pray, the church argues, noting that other churches already have had to flee to the suburbs because of similarly onerous parking restrictions.

The Post notes that many churchgoers in D.C. have relocated to the suburbs and now have to drive into the city. And if you read the letter the United House of Prayer sent the DDOT (via the WashCycle blog), you’ll see another dimension to the fight. The congregation argues:

Illustration for article titled Church Protests That Bike Lane Would Impede Their Free Practice of Religion

That’s a big claim, and they aren’t exactly citing their sources. But it certainly seems to suggest this isn’t simply another church pitching a fit over the War on Christians, but rather a sign of long-simmering tensions over gentrification, as well as a reflection of D.C.’s weird cycling politics.

Please feel free to hash out whether Jesus would walk or drive a big, dumb Volkswagen bus.


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ActonCurrerEllis Bell

This is very near me. Before people jump to say, “Oh my god, MORE religious liberty nonsense?” this is actually quite a different situation. This area is almost always a mess; DC traffic is already a nightmare, but we have a lovely convention center into which tens of thousands of people pour into weekly on top of it.

Also, we do have weird cycling politics. Struggle over road space is a daily problem, and it’s gotten pretty bad in the past few years. It’s all wrapped up in gentrification and competition for sweet sweet city space.

It’s very cool to see something so local on Jezebel but I just wanted to point out some of the city realities before it gets bundled into other religious liberty nonsense.