DC Church Claims Bike Lanes Violate Religious Freedom

United House of Prayer for All People (Photo by NCinDC available on Flickr)

A lot of religious organizations do a lot of great work to protect the environment. From Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical, to small congregations making the choice to go green and connect to nature, the faithful show their dedication to the people and world around them in a myriad of ways. Well, at least they should show their dedication; every now and then a religious group needs a bit of a wake up call.

Our sister site, Gas2, recently published an article about a Washington, DC church that needs one of these wake up calls. In a fight for religious freedom, the congregation says the city should halt development of a bike lane. Yes, a bike lane. Check out the story below:


Originally published on Gas2

As the number of bicycle commuters continues to skyrocket and cities from Denver and Chicago to New York and Miami are embracing bike lanes as a safe, cost-effective way to reduce air pollution and improve the health and safety of their residents. The District of Columbia, our nation’s capitol, is very much the same … except for one local church that’s trying to ruin it for everybody by claiming a newly-proposed bike lane will violate its congregation’s religious freedoms.


Calling itself the “United House of Prayer”, the church is located in the 600 block of M Street NW. The “problem” is that three of the four possible bike lane routes would run along at least parts of Sixth Street NW between Florida and Constitution avenues NW, meaning that members of the United House of Prayer (UHP) congregation would have to park elsewhere and could, potentially, be forced to walk a few blocks to practice their faith. The takeaway here is that, while wandering for forty days in desert without food or water might be fine for someone like Jesus or Moses, it seems the people of the UHP are above such nonsense.

That seems to be what the church’s attorney is saying, anyway, citing that the proposed changes to the church’s parking situation “would place an extreme burden on the free exercise of religion by United House of Prayer congregants,” and that the changes were “unsupportable, unrealistic and particularly problematic for traffic and parking.”

It sounds to me like the only free exercise the UHP congregation is worried about is the kind that involves fresh air and sunshine- but that’s none of my business.

You can take a look at the four DC proposals for new bike lanes that have the United House of Prayer calling in the lawyers, below, then let us know what you think of the church’s take on the new bike lanes and its right to free exercise in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Have fun!

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