SF County's insurer to pay legal fees to church

Posted at: 05/15/2013 9:03 AM
By: The Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A church whose members drink a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament will be reimbursed $750,000 by Santa Fe County's insurer for legal fees as part of a settlement that resolves a land-use dispute.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the dispute arose last year when the county denied a request by O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal's Santa Fe branch to build a temple.

Residents opposed the plan and the county denied the construction as incompatible with the neighborhood. UDV quickly appealed to federal court, claiming religious discrimination.

A judge sided with for the church and the county began settlement negotiations with the church.

The settlement allows UDV to build its temple, but not a greenhouse or new yurt and puts limits on services and attendance.

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