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City Coughing up $825,000 for Infringing Farmer’s Religious Rights

    A Michigan city is coughing up $825,000 because its officials infringed the religious rights of a local farmer by banning him from a mar...



A Michigan city is coughing up $825,000 because its officials infringed the religious rights of a local farmer by banning him from a market event.

Officials with East Lansing also have agreed, going forward, to protect the religious rights of the owners of Country Mill Farms.

The payment includes about $783,000 in lawyers’ fees and another $41,000 in damages.


It was a few months back that a federal district court decided Steve Tennes, the farm owner, was free to continue participating in the city’s farmer’s market, after city officials had banned him.

It was back in 2017 that city officials excluded Tennes – specifically because of his religious beliefs.

“Steve and his family-run farm happily serve all customers as a valued vendor at East Lansing’s farmer’s market. The court was right to agree that the First Amendment protects Steve, like every other small business owner, to operate his business according to his faith and convictions,” lawyer Kate Anderson said in a prepared statement.

“We’re pleased to favorably settle this lawsuit on behalf of Steve so he and his family can continue doing what Country Mill does best, as expressed in its mission statement: “glorifying God by facilitating family fun on the farm and feeding families.'”

The fight, like so many these days, erupted over the farmer’s dedication to biblical standards.

He posted on Facebook that he follows the Catholic Church’s teachings about marriage, including when he allows weddings at his family’s farm.

That statement of faith prompted city officials to create a new policy that refused him permission to be at the farmer’s market.

WND had reported when the ruling was handed down that the court found Tennes and his family had been forced by the city to “to choose between following their religious beliefs and a government benefit for which they were otherwise qualified.”

The case has been in the courts for some six years. The court decision had found, “Denying a person an equal share of the rights, benefits, and privileges enjoyed by other citizens because of her faith discourages religious activity.”

Country Mill Farms is a 120-acre, second-generation family farm in Charlotte, Michigan.

They had sold organic products at the East Lansing farmers market since 2010, but in 2017, city officials decided to target them with a “discretionary system of individual assessments” for participants.

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