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Posted 21 May 2001   For week ended May 18, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 16May01

By Kent Larsen

Boston Temple Steeple OKed

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can build a steeple on its Boston Temple. Neighbors of the building had sued and persuaded a state appeals court judge that the steeple violated zoning ordinances. But the court, in a unanimous opinion, overturned the lower court, ruling that "It is not for judges to determine whether the inclusion of a particular architectural feature is 'necessary' for a particular religion."

Neighbors have filed two separate lawsuits against the Boston Temple, one challenging the right to construct the building at all, alleging that Massachusetts' Dover Amendment is unconstitutional, and this lawsuit claiming that the steeple violates local zoning laws and should not have been approved. Because of the steeple lawsuit, the Boston Temple opened last October without a steeple.

The Temple's neighbors had argued in a state appeals court that the zoning board should have followed the zoning laws. The 83-foot-high steeple was higher than local zoning ordinances permitted, but the Church argued that the steeple had a religious purpose, and therefore should be permitted under Massachusetts' Dover amendment. That law says that local governments can set limits on size, height, parking and open space for buildings, but can't prohibit their construction or limit their religious features.

Last February, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Fahey ruled that the building's steeple is not a "necessary element of the Mormon religion." But yesterday, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, writing for the unanimous court, rejected that argument in a 17-page opionion. "It is not for judges to determine whether the inclusion of a particular architectural feature is 'necessary' for a particular religion," wrote Marshalle. "A rose window at Notre Dame Cathedral, a balcony at St. Peter's Basilica, are judges to decide whether these architectural elements are 'necessary' to the faith served by those buildings?" The opinion also said that there is clear evidence that "the church values an ascendancy of space for the religious ceremonies performed in temples."


SJC sides with Mormon temple in steeple ruling
Boston Globe (AP) 16May01 D1
By Associated Press

See also:

Mormon News' Coverage of the Boston Temple Challenges


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