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U.S. Dept. of Justice sides with church and ADF: Library's ban on religious speech unconstitutional

Library policy 'shushes' religious free speech for ministry organizations

ANTIOCH, Calif. - In a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the position of ADF attorneys, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed Monday that a Contra Costa County policy banning religious groups from meeting in library community rooms for religious services is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

"The county library's decision to treat religious speakers differently than everyone else is a blatant violation of the Constitution," said ADF attorney Elizabeth Murray.  "The Department of Justice's brief demonstrates how blatant that violation really is."

Members of Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries, who had previously used public meeting space at the Antioch Branch Library, were told by library officials they could no longer do so because of a policy stating that "library meeting rooms shall not be used for religious purposes."

The current policy, last revised in December 2004 by county officials, opens library meeting rooms to the public but prohibits the use of meeting rooms for "religious services."

"It's unbelievable that, after the Supreme Court has consistently demanded that the government give equal access to speakers, a library would exclude Christians from a public forum," Murray said. "With the support of the United States Department of the Justice in their corner, the church and other religious speakers are one step closer to having the freedom to exercise their constitutional rights."

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.