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Church in Bellflower Files Civil Rights Lawsuit against Mayor, Council

Pastor Sandra Turnbull is charging in her lawsuit that city officials in Bellflower have been discriminating against her church because many of the members are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered.  The group’s website is www.GodsGayAgenda.com.

Pastor Sandra Turnbull is charging in her lawsuit that city officials in Bellflower have been discriminating against her church because many of the members are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered. The group’s website is www.GodsGayAgenda.com.

By Brian Hews

A Bellflower based church and minister have filed a lawsuit claiming that city council members have actively engaged in a pattern of discrimination and that their religious freedoms are being violated because the congregation overwhelmingly consists of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender men and women.

Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper obtained a copy of the nine-page lawsuit that was filed on behalf of Glory Tabernacle Christian Center on May 22nd is the United States District Court, Central District of California.

In the lawsuit, Pastor Sandra Turnbull, and attorneys Sean P. O’Conner and Daniel R. Bane of the law firm of Shepard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton in Costa Mesa are claiming that the current Bellflower City Council and city administrators are knowingly violating federal and state laws because the church has a large following of gay and lesbian members.

The lawsuit is demanding that a jury trial be held to determine if city councilmembers Ray Dutton, Sonny Santa Ines, Dan Koops, Scott Larsen and Ronald Schnablegger and city staff members violated Glory Tabernacle Christian Center’s right to use land for religious purposes.  In addition, the lawsuit is claiming that the City council members violated their Free Speech, Free Exercise of Religion and Freedom of Assembly has spelled out in the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

The lawsuit claims that city officials have prevented GTCC’s civil rights from establishing a church and conducting religious services and “other religious functions” on their property that the group purchased back in 2009.

The legal action also claims that city officials have “negatively and substantially” affected congregation members and they have been “purposefully and impermissibly burdened.”  The lawsuit also claims that the plaintiffs have been “violated” and that their right to freedom of religion, religious speech and religious association have been denied.

HMG-CN has confirmed that since June 2005, GTCC has held regular Sunday morning worship services at the Jefferson Middle School in Long Beach.  The church has a six-month renewable rental lease/agreement with the Long Beach Unified School District for the Middle School auditorium.

The suit contends that they increased fees have forced them to limit its use of the middle school facilities to just once per month.

Lawyers claim that the church would have had “substantially more growth momentum” by moving and locating in Bellflower.

The suit claims that they are being prohibited from locating their new facility on an existing group of parcels located in Bellflower at the corner of Bellflower Boulevard and Walnut Streets. Turnbull is a successful author, pastor and teacher and who is openly gay.

According to her website www.GodsGayAgenda.com, she talks candidly about “God’s purpose for gays and lesbians.”

“In the words of Jesus, there are ‘eunuchs born thus from their mother’s womb.’  This first category of eunuch described by Jesus in Matthew 19:12 parallels what we understand today to be homosexuals.  It is a joy to share with you the high calling of God for gays and lesbians everywhere in the world.  Above all others, they are called to devote themselves to God for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” Turnbull said.

“As gays and lesbians dedicate their energies, time and resources to God, I believe there is going to be a tremendous outpouring of God’s love and His glory around the world in every sphere,” Turnbull stresses on her website.

Turnbull and her attorney’s repeatedly claim in their lawsuit that Bellflower city officials have been targeting them unfairly.

“Defendants have substantially burdened, and continue to substantially burden GTTC’s exercise to religious liberty, its expression of religious matters and its association for purposes of religion, spiritual and educational activity,” the suit claims.

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