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Ohio library: sorry, no ‘elements of a religious service’ allowed

ADF files suit after library denies community values group use of public meeting room

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Citizens for Community Values Friday after an Ohio library denied the community organization use of a public meeting room.  The Upper Arlington Public Library Board of Trustees said the proposed meetings violated library policy because they contained “inherent elements of a religious service.”

“Christian groups shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Tim Chandler.  “The government cannot treat people with non-religious viewpoints more favorably than people with religious viewpoints.  Christians have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America.”

CCV requested permission to hold an event at a meeting room available to community groups at the Upper Arlington Public Library.  The event is part of a series of presentations being held in Ohio called “Politics and the Pulpit.”  The event provides information on the current status of the law with regard to Christian political involvement as well as teaching from the Bible about such involvement.  The event also includes prayer and a time of singing and giving thanks to God for the freedom Americans have to participate in the political process.

The library denied the meeting room request, stating that some aspects of the meeting were permissible under the library’s policy; however, singing and prayer were not permissible. A library official wrote that the prohibited activities are “inherent elements of a religious service” and therefore conflict with the library’s policy.

“The government cannot discriminate against Christians or Christian groups simply because they are religious,” said ADF-allied attorney and co-counsel David Langdon of Cincinnati.

ADF attorneys are currently litigating a lawsuit on behalf of a ministry in California denied use of a library community room for similar reasons.  The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief in the case, arguing in favor of the position of ADF.

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

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Timothy D. Chandler
Timothy D. Chandler
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Church & Ministry Alliance Engagement & Strategic Projects
Timothy D. Chandler serves as senior counsel and vice president of Church & Ministry Alliance engagement & strategic projects with Alliance Defending Freedom.