Church sues over permit rule

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and two church members recently filed a federal lawsuit against an Arkansas city that says the group must obtain a permit to go door-to-door evangelizing and seeking donations.

The city of White Hall, about 40 miles south of Little Rock, passed a 2014 ordinance requiring most solicitors to obtain a permit before knocking on the doors of private residents.

The city created exceptions for political canvassers, but the lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Pine Bluff says White Hall did not create an exception for religious groups.

“The requirement that a person pass a discretionary and standardless review process as a pre-condition for exercising the protected right to engage in religious speech violates the First Amendment,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims the ordinance violates the group’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion.

It says a major tenant of the church is spreading the gospel of Jesus.

“We’ve had several communities push After the Seventh-day Adventists filed a lawsuit over a similar ordinance in Alabaster, Alabama, the two sides reached a settlement and the city its solicitation laws.