Officials Ban Church Services in Pastor’s Barn

February 16, 2024
Town Officials Ban Barn Church Services | First Liberty Insider

by Jorge Gomez • 3 min read

Pastor Howard Kaloogian lives in Weare, New Hampshire, a small town of 9,000.

Last year, he planted a church called Grace New England. It’s part of Grace Community Church, whose main campus is in Houston. The small congregation meets at Pastor Howard’s home—specifically his barn—every Saturday.

The barn is fully renovated. Pastor Howard added pews, a pulpit and a heater to make sure his congregation can worship comfortably. It’s usually no more than 30 people gathered at once.

But town officials say that’s not allowed. They ordered church gatherings to STOP. Plus, they’re making the Pastor jump through endless hoops just to have people over for worship and prayer.

Here’s what’s really outrageous: The Pastor has previously held other gatherings at the property for years—such as weddings, board-game tournaments, local events and even hosted political candidates who wanted to speak to the community.

The town placed no restrictive zoning demands on those meetings. But apparently, it’s a problem now that the gathering is a church.

That’s clear discrimination based on religion—and it’s illegal.

These actions violate the First Amendment, as well as federal and state laws. So, First Liberty is suing the town of Weare in federal court.

The town makes it seem like it’s simply trying to get the Pastor to apply for a proper site plan. But that’s just not the case. They’ve made him go through repeated inspections only to deny his applications. Meanwhile, town officials routinely turn a blind eye to homes used for secular assemblies like Super Bowl parties, book clubs, and other gatherings in private homes.

And if that double-standard wasn’t enough…they also threatened legal action against the church.

We can’t let this discrimination and harassment continue. So, we’re going to court to defend this congregation.

You can help us win his case. It would mean so much to the Pastor as well as the congregants impacted by his ministry. And by winning for this church, you’re also going to help protect religious freedom for every American, including YOU.

Pastor Howard needs your support. Please give to First Liberty today.

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