12:48pm

Mon July 9, 2012
Faith and Values

Shelter Claims Religious Rights Violated

Hoping to keep it operating, officials with a homeless shelter in Lexington have filed a suit in circuit court.  The city’s Board of Adjustment last month revoked a permit to operate the Community Inn on Winchester road facility.  It ruled the shelter is not operating under the conditions imposed when it opened more than a year ago.  Ginny Ramsey, who founded the Community Inn, rejects the argument.

“As far as we’re concerned, we are required by our faith to stand up for these people and to continue to provide them with shelter and Matthew-25 tells us to,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey, also directs the Catholic Action Center, which operates a homeless shelter near downtown Lexington. She says their operations are an expression of their Christian faith and are protected by the US Constitution.

“It seems to me this is a very simple decision that will be made by the circuit court because legally the right for churches to practice their faith is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.  We expect that there will be a decision before December 8th,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey says the Community Inn shelters at least 70 homeless residents each night.  She adds the shelter has always operated within the law. 

‘We’re here to protect our people and to keep them housed.  Can you imagine if folks didn’t have a place to stay in the past five days of over 100 degrees?,” said Ramsey.

A spokeswoman for Lexington’s mayor says the city does not comment on open lawsuits. The suit was filed on behalf of Immanuel Apostolic Church and the Catholic Action Center.  It names the Urban County Board of Adjustment and Planning Department as defendants.