(The Church Report) A tiny Mississippi congregation is fighting a city’s attempt to ban churches from the town square, a move that the pastor said is aimed at preventing the church from taking up valuable space for shops and other businesses.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Wednesday. The dispute involves a Holly Springs, Miss., ordinance banning churches from the town square. Town officials want to make the square a business district. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by the church in January. A federal judge ruled in favor of the town in January, and the church is appealing.

Telsa DeBerry, the 44-year-old pastor of Opulent Life Church, accused town officials of relegating churches to the “third-rung” parts of town to make sure tax-exempt churches don’t take up valuable space in the desirable town square.

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