Frat Boys Are No Angels, Either

Every now and then we like to throw in some lighter fare. For amusement, I re-post this heading from Howard Friedman’s Religion Clause:

“Fraternity House Is Not A Monastery For

Zoning Purposes”

It seems that a federal court in Illinois has rejected an argument that a proposed fraternity house in Chicago be considered a monastery. Since the local zoning laws prohibit a fraternity house at that location, the owner of the house petitioned the court for the house to be considered a monastery (which would be permitted in the zoning laws). The basis of the claim was that Sigma Pi’s mission statement is “In the Service of God and Man.”

Perhaps the claim would have been stronger, had some of the “brothers” presented themselves to the court wearing cowls and drinking mead?

The full text of Friedman’s summation follows:

In Myers v. City of Chicago, ND IL, Sept. 12, 2012, an Illinois federal district court rejected an equal protection claim by plaintiff who purchased a house on Chicago’s North Shore Avenue intending to rent it for use as a fraternity house to Sigma Pi Fraternity. However, fraternities and sororities in this area require a special use permit– except for those located in the area before 1970 zoning changes established this requirement. Plaintiff argued that the city should treat his proposed use of the house as a “monastery”– a permitted use in the area– because of the Sigma Pi’s mission statement: “In the Service of God and Man.” The court concluded: No matter how closely Sigma Pi hews to the letter of its motto, Myers has fallen far short of proving that the Sigma Pi fraternity brothers are actual Religious Brothers, that is, in the words of the ordinance, “persons such as nuns or monks under religious vows.” The defendants’ interpretation of this language to exclude fraternity houses therefore passes the rational-basis test.

via Religion Clause.


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