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Scientology Protest Leads Chicago To Drop Ordinance Protecting Houses Of Worship

First Posted: 04/12/11 10:17 AM ET Updated: 06/12/11 06:12 AM ET

Scientology

The City of Chicago is officially giving up on an ordinance that would block protesters from causing a disturbance outside of places of worship where services are taking place.

The ordinance was designed to protect those attending services from excessive disturbances. But an incident at a Scientology church late last year led to the ordinance's ultimate demise.

A group of people went to picket the Church of Scientology at 3011 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, objecting to some of the church's practices. In response, the Church put up a sign saying that it held services from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Since the law says you can't protest during services, that essentially forbade the group from protesting.

Some, however, didn't leave. And when the police were called, one person, Alex Hageli, stuck around, accepted a citation, and vowed to challenge it.

After reviewing Hageli's challenge, the city ultimately decided not to press charges, according to the Chicago Tribune. And its Law Department has told police to stop enforcing the ordinance altogether, given its questionable Constitutional foundations.

The law was already eroding earlier this year, when the Gay Liberation network decided to protest the Holy Name Cathedral in favor of marriage equality. The American Civil Liberties Union came out strong behind the protesters in that case, arguing that the law was illegal. Police decided not to break up that protest, and it wasn't long before they would drop the ordinance altogether.

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Filed by Will Guzzardi  |