Buddhist monks file federal lawsuit

Daily Press, September 28, 2008

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (USA) -- The Buddhist monks who were denied a permit to hold services at their home in Pungo have filed a federal lawsuit.

The Buddhist Education Center of America Inc., claims the city of Virginia Beach violated its religious rights and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The monks had to stop holding Sunday services at their home on West Neck Road on Aug. 26, after the City Council in an 8-2 vote denied them a two-year permit extension. The monks' use of their house as a temple had been an issue in Pungo.

Some neighbors complained that the services drew too much traffic and was inappropriate for a primarily residential area. The monks also want the court to allow them to continue worship services while the case goes through the judicial system, said John Stepanovich, a Virginia Beach lawyer who is representing the Buddhists.