Library policy: No religious people allowed

By WND Staff

A Christian ministry filed a federal civil rights lawsuit after being barred from meeting at a library due to the facility’s policy of forbidding use for “religious purposes.”

“The library flagrantly violated the ministry’s constitutional rights,” said Joshua Carden, counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, which brought the suit against the Contra Costa County, Calif., Board of Supervisors and several library officials on behalf of Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries.

“It’s unbelievable that, after years of equal access litigation in this country, a library would exclude Christians from a public forum,” Carden said.

Hattie Hopkins, leader of Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries, a Christian outreach ministry based in Sacramento, asked her coordinator to reserve a free public meeting room at the library branch in Antioch for May 29 and July 31

The library accepted the reservations, and about a dozen people showed up for the first meeting.

But after conclusion of the meeting, two library staff members told Hopkins that religious groups were not allowed.

They presented Hopkins with the library’s policy, which states “library meeting rooms shall not be used for religious purposes.”

But Carden contends a public library cannot restrict access to public meeting rooms based on the beliefs of the people who want to meet there.

“Such open hostility to religion must not be tolerated,” Carden said.

Hopkins contacted the Christian Law Association, which wrote to inform the library of Faith Center’s rights. The library never responded, and Florida-based CLA transferred the case to Alliance Defense Fund for litigation.

“We are asking the court to declare the library’s policy unconstitutional and prevent the library from continuing to enforce it,” Carden said.

“A place that exists as a public repository of ideas is strangely hypocritical, as well as acting outside the law, when it attempts to be the ‘thought police’ of its patrons,” he added.

The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.