YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — The city of Yuma is being sued by a church that was denied a permit to turn an old J.C. Penney Co. department store building downtown into a worship center.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Alliance Defense Fund and the Center for Arizona Policy, acting on behalf of the Centro Familiar Cristiano Buenos Nuevas Christian Church.

The suit accuses the city of discrimination by enforcing a zoning code they say allows membership groups and theaters to locate in the city's historic district while excluding religious organizations.

"Churches should not be singled out for discrimination by a city's zoning restrictions," said Byron Babione, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund. "Prohibiting a church from occupying its own building simply because a city favors nonreligious assemblies over religious assemblies is not allowed under the Cconstitution or federal law."