The San Gabriel Valley city of Walnut is being sued by the federal government for alleged religious discrimination after it blocked the construction of a Buddhist house of worship, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

The Chung Tai Zen Center was denied a conditional use permit in 2008. It was the first time Walnut turned down a house of worship since 1980, the DOJ stated. What's more, the Department of Justice points out in a statement that Walnut approved another house of worship the same year:

” … the complaint alleges that in August 2008, the city approved a conditional use permit for a Catholic church that, when completed, will be larger than the Zen Center's proposed facility. The complaint also alleges that between 1998 and 2003, the city built a civic center complex two blocks from Zen Center's former location in Walnut.”

Credit: Google Maps

Credit: Google Maps

The U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, André Birotte Jr., stated: “Upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans is one of the most important objectives of the Department of Justice and this office.”

The complaint seeks an injunction that would essentially reverse Walnut's decision and ensure that the city doesn't do such a thing again.

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