Image 01 Image 03

Appeals Court Grants Injunction for Catholic Organization After City Forced Removal of ‘Religious Displays’

Appeals Court Grants Injunction for Catholic Organization After City Forced Removal of ‘Religious Displays’

The group ‘is a religious organization whose mission is to further the work of Saint Padre Pio—the patron saint of healing.’

A federal appeals court ordered an injunction in favor of a Catholic organization after a Michigan city forced the group to remove “religious displays” from a “prayer trail.” The appeals court found the group was “likely to succeed on the merits of its claim.”

The injunction allows the group to restore the religious displays as litigation continues in the lower court.

The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), which represents the group, praised the decision. AFLC attorney Robert Muise told Legal Insurrection the Catholic organization is “in the process of restoring the religious symbols.”

The injunction came amid a yearslong land-use dispute between Catholic Healthcare International (CHI) and the Genoa Charter Township, which imposed a special land-use permit requirement for the prayer trail structures.

In 2020, CHI sought city approval for a prayer trail consisting of a stone altar, mural, and Stations of the Cross trail markers (pictured).

[With permission American Freedom Law Center]

The appeals court decision noted that “a few miles away” from CHI exists a comparable secular trail depicting “Leopold the Lion,” for which the city did not require a special land-use permit.

The dispute began when city planners informed CHI the city regarded “the prayer trail as a church” building that needed “special land use and site plan approval.”

CHI President Jere Palazzolo expressed surprise at the complexity of the approval process and asked the city to reconsider its decision to require a special land-use permit.

When the city refused to budge, CHI “proceeded to create the prayer trail anyway,” and the city demanded CHI remove the structures.

CHI sued the city in 2021, arguing the city violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the United States and Michigan Constitutions. CHI petitioned the trial court for an injunction allowing it to restore the prayer trail. When the trial court refused, CHI appealed.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Is this on private land?

Let us raise our voices and sing the Ballad of Carl Drega.

Maybe MI should revise its “Pure Michigan” motto to be something like, “Pure Anti-Catholic Hate.” Kinda makes you want to visit MI, doesn’t it?

    gonzotx in reply to Q. | September 19, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    It once was a beautiful state, Lake Mi and upper Peninsula ( which they stole from WI). Are so incredible, breath taking really
    Lake Superior, you can see down 50 feet it’s so clear

    And Detroit was once the Paris of America

    It’s all so disgusting what they allowed to happen

    It’s only going to get worse

      MarkSmith in reply to gonzotx. | September 20, 2023 at 9:05 am

      Gonzontx you don’t know $hit about Michigan history. First, the UP was and exchange for Toledo over the Toledeo War. Wisc. did not exist, so it could not be stolen from them. Second, liberal Democrat Jackson thought the UP was just a wilderness dumping,but actually was a boom for mining and making the automotive capital of the world for Detroit. I really don’t think people went to Detroit for it artistic and culture value like Paris. Detroit was the American Dream where lower class could work hard and move up classes. Detroit was not a vacation spot. Please engage ur brain before you put your mouth in gear.

        creeper in reply to MarkSmith. | September 20, 2023 at 9:16 am

        You could have argued your excellent point without the attendant sneer.

          MarkSmith in reply to creeper. | September 20, 2023 at 9:25 am

          I normal agree with Gonzotx but lately he is way off based. He need a whack on the side of his head to get back on track. Can’t let him loss all creditability. He need to apology for spouting facts about Michigan that are not true.

    Milhouse in reply to Q. | September 20, 2023 at 1:37 am

    Is it anti-Catholic or anti-religious? What sort of township is Genoa?

      It is described as a Catholic organization in the article. Catholics are generally viewed by the woke as extremists or quasi-domestic terrorists. I don’t think it’s anti-religion. I doubt that the MI gov’t would have commenced any legal action against, say, a Muslim organization.

      JohnSmith100 in reply to Milhouse. | September 20, 2023 at 8:16 am

      White and wealthy. Send them a few bus loads of illegals. They are probably anti-religious.

      MarkSmith in reply to Milhouse. | September 20, 2023 at 9:17 am

      Genoa Township is stuck between Brighton an Howell (Home of the Melon Queen!). My guess is this sleepy Autoworkers community is being over run by liberals from Ann Arbor and Oakland county. There is no major city in its bouncy, so the developers and outsides are messing with it and projecting there values.

        MarkSmith in reply to MarkSmith. | September 20, 2023 at 9:28 am

        In years past, the highlight of the festival was a beauty contest to elect the Howell Melon Queen. The very first Melon Queen, a beautiful nurse, won a trip to Washington, D.C. where she met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House. The news wires picked up the story of the beauty queen and the Howell melons, earning front-page stories in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, and “that’s how the Howell melon got famous”, according to Dr. Louis May, organizer of the first festival.

First Amendment. Private Land. The government should have ZERO say in this.

A key point that isn’t mentioned in the post: the Leopold the Lion display is in a county-owned park. The Padre Pio religious display is on private property owned by the society, and is not visible from outside that property. That makes the township’s position even more unreasonable than it would appear at first glance. If it were up to me the township would have to reimburse the Padre Pio Society for every cent it spent on this case, including the two failed zoning applications. The township had no grounds for objecting to this in the first place, let alone giving them the runaround for years.

It’s also weird that the court decision (and hence the subhed on this post) calls him “Saint Padre Pio”. Does anyone call him that? His official title is “Saint Pio of Pietrelcina”, and he’s generally known as “Padre Pio”.

Would anyone ever say “Saint Mother Cabrini”, or “Saint Mother Teresa”?

    MarkSmith in reply to Milhouse. | September 20, 2023 at 9:32 am

    Saint Padre Pio was an Italian priest who was known for is adoration of charity and love for the people around him. He bore the wounds of Christ, which is still something that cannot be explained. Francesco Forgione was born May 25th, 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy. He was the son of peasant farmers Grazio Mario Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio.

      Milhouse in reply to MarkSmith. | September 20, 2023 at 11:04 pm

      Yes, but who calls him “Saint Padre Pio”? Which site are you quoting? It’s a very weird thing to call him, the equivalent of “Saint Mother Cabrini”, or “Dr Mr Smith”. He’s known as “Padre Pio”, and once he was canonized he became “Saint Pio”, but not “Saint Padre”, as if “Padre” were part of his name.

        MarkSmith in reply to Milhouse. | September 21, 2023 at 7:23 pm

        Your splitting hairs. Yes, he is call Saint Pio Why do you have an issue over it? Catholic Online is calling him St. Padre Pio.

A work around would be live performance art, much as is still done in the Philippines. A volunteer could be nailed to a cross for a day at a time and then removed and given any necessary medical treatment.

On certain NY highways locations are designated for prayer services primarily for Orthodox Jews with no frivolous lawsuits commenced yet by any so called First Amendment believers in the nonexistent wall of separation of church and state