Bishop McDonnell Explains. 4.

" the City of Springfield  the RCB, at its request, has previously been specifically exempted from coverage of a historic district. That exemption has been upheld by the Supreme Judicial Court (Springfield Preservation Trust)." (paper 28, p. 2)

"The Supreme Court has broadly defined expressive conduct as that which is inherently expressive  because it is "overwhelmingly apparent" to a reasonable observer that one is viewing a form of symbolic speech....clearly, the  RCB has placed freedom of expression front and center as an RCB constitutional right infringed upon by this ordinance, in addition to the RCB's free exercise of religion rights. As a hybrid rights case, Employment Div. v. Smith does not apply." (28, p. 6)

"The City fails to grasp the simple point that the closing of the site for worship in effect triggers the RCB's religious obligation to protect its religious symbols under Canon Law and sacred scripture...a frieze on a church exterior depicting the Madonna and Child owned by the Church is, as a matter of religious belief in the Catholic faith, sacred and cannot be allowed to be used in a fashion that might be considered sordid." (28, p. 8)

"In its complaint, RCB included allegations of particular actions by the individual defendants tending to show that they purposefully targeted RCB  as a religious entity because of its religiously-motivated decision to close the OLOH Parish and to discontinue regular worship services at OLOH Church contrary to the wishes of many parishioners. The implications of that conduct, which may be a disputed issue of fact, clearly go to the liability of the individual defendants regardless of whether such intentions or conduct should be imputed to the City...accordingly...the claims against those individuals should not be dismissed at this state of the litigation." (29, p. 3)

"The Ordinance exercises government control over RCB's scriptural inscriptions and sacred prohibiting their removal, replacement, covering or reuse elsewhere unless the City...decides that such action may be allowed. This exercise of control prevents the Bishop's exercise of his religious obligations to protect these features from inappropriate use and to continue their use elsewhere when possible. These are substantial harms." (29, p. 7)

"Even if an exemption could be obtained, this aspect of the Ordinance does not remedy the Ordinance’s constitutional infirmities; if anything, this aspect further infringes on RCB’s rights. Obligating the RCB to seek such relief violates its constitutional rights. The process offered is that upon receipt of a proper application, the City, through the Springfield Historical Commission, will then evaluate whether the RCB’s religious reasons for seeking an exemption are “appropriate” or constitute a sufficient “hardship” to outweigh the government’s interest in historic preservation. This clearly entangles the City and ultimately the courts in valuing the RCB’s religious beliefs. Such conduct is something First Amendment jurisprudence clearly prohibits government from doing."
(29, p.9)