Apparently, Christians were going to use the library's public meeting room to teach people about financial discipline. You know, how to stop spending what you don't have and get rid of credit card debt. Because some Bible verses were to be used for motivational purposes during this training, the library denied the Christians access. Realizing the implications, the library decided to stop making its public meeting room available to the public anymore. From now on it would be restricted to library-related discussions only.
The people running the library believe themselves intimidating enough that no one would question how they get the hubris to deny people access to a room the public paid for with taxpayer money. Apparently, the public trust is subordinate to someone's anti-religious agenda. Apparently, "National Library Week" just celebrated by the library to "promote library use" is only an advertising slogan, not something to live by.
"We regret that this policy change will have the effect of not allowing the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts and other nonprofit groups the ability to use our meeting rooms," said board President Joe Braun. I "regret" to point out this library has exceeded its authority by denying access to a public accommodation. I "regret" to say that freedom of speech and civil rights are being curtailed by the library. The lawsuit may prove this. Promoting library use is not so important after all.
Compare this to a library that recently refused to allow its public meeting room to be used by someone speaking against Israel and in favor of Palestinians. In that case the ALA got directly involved to ensure the pro-Palestinian speaker was heard. "However, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, pointed out that, when libraries provide meeting room space, they can’t engage in viewpoint discrimination, as noted in the ALA’s Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights regarding meeting rooms." See "Greenwich Library, CT, Rescinds Permission for Pro-Palestinian Speaker, Then Reverses Course," by Norman Oder, Library Journal, February 14, 2008.
The ALA policy on this matter seems to indicate the library will lose the lawsuit and ought to apologize and reverse course now before wasting more public funding:
If meeting rooms in libraries supported by public funds are made available to the general public for non-library sponsored events, the library may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or based on the ideas that the group advocates. For example, if a library allows charities and sports clubs to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library should not exclude partisan political or religious groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities. If a library opens its meeting rooms to a wide variety of civic organizations, then the library may not deny access to a religious organization.
Apparently, the library is, even under ALA policies, guilty of freedom of speech violations. Apparently the library has denied the civil rights of Christians. This is no surprise to me as I just blogged about another library denying someone's civil rights, this time a Chinese American woman. Children have civil rights to access inappropriate material in public libraries, but Christians have no civil rights to quote the Bible.
Be that as it may, the ALA policy on this matter seems to indicate the library will lose the lawsuit. I call upon the library to apologize and reverse course before wasting more public funding. I am certain the ADF will drop the suit if only the library agrees to reverse its curtailment of freedom of speech and allow the Christians to attend their financial seminar. Indeed I urge people to attend that seminar as everyone could use financial assistance.
Because I have once again presented unbelievable information, here is information on this Batavia, OH, incident:
- "Library Limits Use of Rooms After Suit," by AP, The Columbia Dispatch, June 14, 2008.
- "Clermont County Restricts Programs After Lawsuit," by AP, FOX 19 Cincinnati, June 13, 2008.
- "Library Shuts Out Christians--And Everybody Else," by Jeff Johnson, OneNewsNow, June 13, 2008.
- "Quoting Scripture Banned in Library Community Room," by WorldNetDaily, WorldNetDaily, June 10, 2008.
- "Ohio Public Library Policy Banning Christian Meetings Challenged; ADF Attorneys File Suit Against Library Board Over Policy Prohibiting Quotation of the Bible in Meeting Room Seminar," by ADF Media Relations, Alliance Defense Fund, June 6, 2008.
This is already the subject of a lawsuit. Here are some relevant documents:
- Vandergriff et al. v. Clermont County Public Library Board of Trustees
- Complaint filed by ADF-allied attorney David Langdon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division