03/17/2009: Buddhists will continue worship services in Virginia Beach; settlement with City reached
The city and a group of Buddhist monks have reached a tentative settlement that would allow them to continue holding worship services in their Pungo home. "We've accomplished our objective," said John Stepanovich, the attorney for the Buddhist Education Center of America Inc. "It was always about the continued religious service."
“Beach, Buddhist monks agree on home worship,” Deirdre Fernandes, The Virginian-Pilot (Mar. 17, 2009). S&G represented the Buddhist Education Center of America, Inc. and several Buddhist monks, together with Virginia Beach attorney John G. Stepanovich.
05/08/2005: S&G protects rights of San Diego Vietnamese Buddhist congregation
SAN DIEGO - Vietnamese Buddhist monks who claimed that their neighbors' religious hostility led to the shutdown of their services have won a settlement that allows worship to resume.
The accord lifts a cease-and-desist order that had halted meditation and other activities on the site, located near Bonsall in northern San Diego County.
"This is exactly the type of protection Congress meant to extend when it passed [RLUIPA]," Storzer said.
Buddhists Reach Accord With County, Can Resume Worship, L.A. Daily Journal (August 3, 2005):
"This is a great victory for these monks and those who meditate with them," said Roman P. Storzer, attorney for the Congregation. "We applaud the County for agreeing to allow the use to continue." This is the latest case to be resolved under RLUIPA, which prevents local governments from 'substantially burdening' religious exercise unless they have compelling reasons for doing so. "A small, minority religion without great political power in the County will now be able to continue engaging in the same religious activity they have enjoyed for several years."
Federal lawsuit against County of San Diego settled; County will permit religious use to continue in Bonsall, Press Release (August 1, 2005):
Monks, county reach agreement in civil suit, North County Times (July 28, 2005).
Meeting about Buddhist temple expected to draw a crowd, San Diego Union-Tribune (July 30, 2005).
Buddhist group sues county over cease-and-desist order, North County Times (June 9, 2005).
Buddhists have a right to meditate, Letter to the Editor (June 24, 2005).
Order on Settlement, maintaining jurisdiction to ensure that the terms of the agreement, which permit the Plaintiff monks and laypeople to continue their meditation activity, are enforced.
Law Briefs, The Daily Record (August 2, 2005).