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Worship Not Permitted


First Liberty is defending White Rock Chapel, a historic black church near Dallas. The city of Addison, Texas is using zoning regulations to block this small church from living out its faith.

Not In Our Neighborhood?

Two years ago, White Rock Chapel applied for building permits so it could make improvements to its historic property, gather for worship and Bible study, and serve the surrounding community.

But the city refused to grant the permits. The church applied for a Special Use Permit, which was unanimously approved by the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission. However, in July the City Council voted 5-2 to deny the permit. Hostile neighbors have also kept the church from making renovations.

We sent a letter to the city explaining the First Amendment and federal law protect the right of churches to operate free from unreasonable and intrusive government interference. We argue the city council should grant the permit, as the church fulfilled all necessary requirements.


Sign the Letter of Support

The congregation of White Rock Chapel just wants to improve their historic property, gather for worship and Bible study, and serve their surrounding community.

Will you stand with White Rock Chapel and tell Addison city leaders and hostile neighbors to end their discrimination?

Add your name today!

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Know Your Rights: Legal Protections for Houses of Worship

How can my church or synagogue proactively protect its legal right to operate according to its religious beliefs? What steps can we take today?

In this FREE resource, our legal experts help houses of worship implement policies and procedures to protect their rights under the law and shield them from unforeseen legal threats and challenges.

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Alaska Quote Marks

“The law is clear. Opposition by a few, no matter how hostile or influential they are, cannot override White Rock Chapel’s constitutional right of religious exercise.”

– First Liberty Counsel, Ryan Gardner

Ryan Gardner | First Liberty

White Rock Chapel | First Liberty Institute

The Rich History of White Rock Chapel

White Rock Chapel legacy is one of racial reconciliation and understanding during turbulent times during and following the Civil War. It was founded by freed slaves more than a hundred years ago.

In 1884, families of the White Rock Chapel CME Church purchased an acre on the shady banks of the creek and built their first building of rough-hewn logs. Sidney Smith Noell, who owned 1,200 acres in the area and often worshipped at the church, donated two acres to the congregation in 1918 so they could build a new location following a flood.

In 2000, the Texas Historical Commission designated 5555 Celestial Road in Addison, the home of White Rock Chapel, a historic location and granted it a Texas State Historical Marker. The present rendition of White Rock Chapel of Addison was established as a private, nonprofit cultural and spiritual convening place in 2018.

Learn More About the Church’s History >>

Join the Fight

White Rock Chapel existed long before the upscale neighborhood that now surrounds it. The history it represents should be honored. This church should be a reminder to the city of Addison that unity, diversity and religious freedom are core values that strengthen our nation.

White Rock Chapel has and will follow the law and all the necessary procedures. It’s the city’s turn to do the same, do what’s right, and not let the bias and religious hostility of members of the community influence it.

Please give now and join First Liberty in the fight for religious freedom. Your support is essential in helping us defend—and win—for White Rock Chapel and houses of worship across the country.

*If contributions exceed the immediate needs of a specific project or case, First Liberty may redirect funds at its discretion to provide support for other religious liberty matters.

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