Group protests Rock Church expansion in El Cajon

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SAN DIEGO -- The Rock Church will soon hold religious services at the East County Performing Arts Center, but not everyone in the community is on board.

The ECPAC has been vacant for four years. City leaders said the deal is worth $1 million a year in rent and is the best chance to cash in and keep the center open.

Ray Lutz was joined by a dozen protestors Thursday as he dropped off a formal complaint to the City of El Cajon expressing the group's opposition to the Rock Church’s expansion. The group says the city's own list of possible uses for the center precludes turning it into a church.

"What the city is proposing to do is against the law," Lutz said. "'The city warrants that the use of ECPAC shall be for civic, educational, cultural and recreational purposes.' Now it didn't list religious purposes in there."

The Rock Church released a statement saying "The City of El Cajon assured us that this agreement is perfectly legal, and we at the Rock Church are excited for this new opportunity to serve the people of East County."

The religious services would start in early 2015 after the city completes about $1 million in renovations to the center.

Lutz said that if the city doesn't respond to the group's complaint, he will take it to court.




  • Michael Russell

    Other than mispronouncing the name of Ray Lutz, the Faux “NEWS” reader did a good job. Doesn’t the separation of Church and State apply to municipalities like El Cajon, with it’s large Iraqi diaspora, I wouldn’t be surprised if next year they start selling the performing Arts Center to Muslums, too.

  • Michael

    Interesting, it’s been vacant for four years and the City hasn’t placed ANYTHING in there in that time. I get separation of church and state and the increase in the Muslim population to the community but let’s be real here, the Rock will improve the center and generate revenue. I am an atheist but let these things go because somebody will see a personal benefit, so to the community. You don’t like it, you find the million in funding to renovate and locate a legitimate occupier.

  • denise

    Don’t people have better things to do beside complain that they are going to finally fill a building that has been empty for 4 years. Ridiculous!!!!

  • NavyDude1986

    I personally find it funny that people will balk at a building that has been empty for 4 Years, generate cash for the cities coffers and all because it’s being used for a church! Can’t you find a more worthy cause to be upset over? How is it a separation of church and state issue?? Churches rent out city/state owned venues ALL THE TIME. So get a grip, or maybe go grip a tambourine and join the service one day. Maybe you’ll learn what compassion is (again). Because we all can get a refill of it (COMPASSION).

  • Ray Lutz

    We have been fighting to reopen the theater for the past four years and I have been working to improve the theater for about 10. Sure there are lots of things to get upset over, but that does not mean this is right. (that’s like saying rapes should not be prosecuted because murders are worse!) This is clearly a church and state issue, and it is clearly not allowed under those laws, because you have to be nonpreferential and nondiscriminatory. We are not saying the church can’t rent the theater. But they can’t rent it on a long-term lease and not allow other faiths to also use it, since it is the only theater of its kind and in the governmental superblock. Please see our full letter to the city here: so you can fully understand the reasons this cannot proceed.

  • Joe LaGuardia

    The “Crock” Church is nothing more than “Pay the Lord” accentuated. Try shopping at Vons on a Sunday, at Liberty Station and you will fall victim to the rude traffic Nazi’s who have no authority whatsoever. Mile McPherson is also a fake /fraud who should be exposed for what he truly is…..

  • thechurchofchrismartin

    Shame, shame, shame on all you protesters. The area around the former Performing Arts Center could use some revitalizing and I assure you, that the businesses around it will surely benefit from the infusion of money and people whom the Rock Church attracts. And yes, probably some more street traffic too. I live across the street from a Middle School in San Diego, which has its auditorium utilized by a Church group every Sunday. I don’t see anyone protesting that commingling of church and state. Ray Lutz, find another worthy cause to get worked up about.

    • Ray Lutz

      You are missing the Point, THECHURCHOFCHRISMARTIN. It is a false dichotomy to compare leasing to the Rock Church and not opening at all. The ECPAC theater is planned to be reopened (and never should have been closed to begin with). We are NOT against any church renting the space ON AN EQUAL BASIS with every other use. The use of middle schools by Churches on Sundays is allowed only on a TEMPORARY BASIS… sure they can renew their agreement, but they can’t rent it for more than a year, and if a different church wants to rent that same space, then the school district has to have a way to arbitrate between the various religious users so they are not showing any preference, and they can’t disallow the church of Satan to use it either, even if they don’t agree with it. You are right that schools may be violating their clear policies so we will be looking into that too. Your logic is broken. Just try that with a police officer when you are pulled over for speeding some time “I see people violating the speed limit and you’re not pulling them over” and see if he says “You’re right. we are not completely fair because we can’t catch everyone, so I am going to rip up your speeding ticket, and we won’t issue any more unless we can guarantee that everyone gets one that deserves it”

      Look. We are citizens trying to keep watch on our government. Sure, we miss some things now and then. But if we are watching and they are violating the law, we are not going to stand down just because someone else was seen also violating the law. We are here this time, and we can nip this in the bud, so now is the time to take action!

  • thechurchofchrismartin

    For such a person with what seems to be a logical mind, Ray, I think that it is YOU who is missing the Point. The Rock Church is a fine neighbor and their lists of ministry groups and good works is longer than the rap sheet of the average El Cajon criminal on the streets. Yes, the flock of congregants does bring traffic but it will pump up the area with people who shop, buy coffee and stop for lunch after church. El Cajon is drooling over THAT prospect. You can go on all you want about church and state yada-yada, but I think your time would be better spent protesting Mt. Soledad’s cross on public land, rather than chasing after the good people of The Rock Church.

  • Ray Lutz

    Well, I disagree. Even if there are criminals in another area of town does NOT mean that we should turn a blind eye to law breaking here. So we disagree about what is important. If you think the Mt. Soledad Cross is such an egregious violation, I suggest you spend your time there. I don’t live in that area, and so it is not my issue. I have been working to get this theater back open for the last four years, and I have followed the issue since they first turned it over to CCT. I have no problem with religious groups using the theater, including the Rock Church, as long as they do it on an equal basis with all other users. I think El Cajon will be better suited to keep the Rock Church where it is, closer to the freeways and trolleys rather than in downtown. The trouble with the Rock Church is they have all there customers arrive on the same day instead of spreading it out in a more even trickle so more can stop and shop, eat, and spend money. This will be mostly negative to the center of El Cajon.

    This will not go forward in its present form as it is an egregious violation of constitutional law.

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