Church of the Good Shepherd has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a Fairfax County zoning ordinance violates First Amendment rights, WTOP reports.
The Vienna-based church received a citation in July for showing more than two different messages within 24 hours on the electronic sign along Hunter Mill Road.
On July 3, the church displayed three messages, according to the county's citation: "WELCOME, come on in and beat the heat ..., Also visit us at goodshepherdva.com, Practicing the Presence Thurs., July 5 1 p.m."
The invitation to "beat the heat" came when thousands had no power in the aftermath of the June 29 derecho, the church wrote in the lawsuit filed Aug. 20 with the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia.
It is unclear why a Fairfax County surveilled the church that day, WTOP reports.
The church responded with a federal lawsuit, claiming the zoning ordinance violated the church's free speech and freedom of religion rights.
The complaint asserts the church and its congregants "have suffered and continue to suffer irreparable harm from the Defendant's actions in regulating and restricting Plaintiff's protected speech and in imposing prior restraint on Plaintiff's free speech rights."
Read the complaint's full text in the media box to the right of this article.