• Discrimination lawsuit over old Heritage U.S.A. tower heads to federal court

    By: Greg Suskin

    Updated:

    YORK COUNTY, S.C. - The fate of a 21-story tower built by televangelist Jim Bakker in Fort Mill has made it to the middle of a federal courtroom. 

    The property has been caught in a tug of war between the church that now owns it and York County. 

    [ALSO READ: Lawsuit filed over old Heritage U.S.A. tower]

    [LINK: York County lawsuit]

    Morningstar Church said York County has tried to stop them from finishing the tower for a decade. York County said they shouldn't even be in court because can't show they were discriminated against. 

    Pastor at Morningstar Rick Joyner said he wants to turn the tower into retirement condos. 

    York County has never given the church the green light for the project because the county claims the church could never show them they had the money to do it. 

    The church said they couldn't raise the money because the county wouldn't give them building permits. 


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    In November, the church filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against York County, claiming the county only wanted the tower torn down and violated their religious freedom. 

    In court Thursday, York County officials asked a judge to throw out the case. Joyner said all he cares about is finishing the tower, which the church considers, an act of worship. 

    "We've done everything we can to get going as fast as we can, and get 'r' done. I want to still be here when that things' finished, ya know," Joyner said. 

    [ALSO READ: The rise and fall of Jim, Tammy Faye Bakker and their ministry]

    York County lawyers moved to dismiss the case on two grounds. First, the lawsuit was too similar to an earlier lawsuit filed by the church. 

    They didn't think the county should be sued twice over the same issues. 

    Secondly, the county said the statute of limitations has run out on the lawsuit. 

    The judge will likely decide whether or not to toss the lawsuit in the next few days. 

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