Libraries back ban on religious use

The Columbus Dispatch reports a California court decision allowing libraries to ban religious services in their facilities has drawn a welcome sigh in central Ohio. Many Columbus-area libraries prohibit church services but allow church groups to use library meeting rooms for other purposes.

The same policy by a Contra Costa County, Calif., library prompted a lawsuit by those who argued the policy violates First Amendment rights to free speech. On Sept. 21, the 9 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of the library.

"The court's decision affirmed the practice we’ve been following for years, that the way we've been interpreting where to draw the line in regard to religious services and our meeting rooms has been appropriate," said Deb McWilliam, director of support services for the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

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Circus

Oh please lets see what happens when there is a rehearing, a hearing En Banc, or an appeal. Remember this is the nuttiest USCOA in the nation. There is a reason it is know as the 9th Circus.

The decision is here it makes for interesting reading.

The decision is absurd as is the County's everchanging policy. They feel they can ban religious services, but not religious meetings, what the hell is the difference between a service, a discussion, a lecture, or a prayer circle. Are the Amish OK, but the Baptists out? Is it OK if the Catholics speak in Latin about movie reviews, but not OK if they pray in English.

Why do people want to ban religious groups from meeting in public meeting rooms?

J. Tallman is the only one who makes any sense. "[T]he County has exclueded certain members of the community from engaging in activites that fall squarely within the policy's scope by examining the way an applicant's viewpoints are expressed. Political organizations like the local Democratic Party are admitted. Religious groups are not."

Tillman goes on to note that the County feels the First Amendment requires it to exclude religious groups.

The bastardization of the First Amendment to bar religious speech in public fora is disgusting. While I many not agree with the Scientologists, Zoroastorans, Wiccans, and heck even Evangelical Christians, I don't begrudge them the right to worship as they wish, and if need be at the library.

The Bill of Rights does not delineate nor enumerate all the Rights we hold so dear, but more importantly it does not restrict any of our Rights. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written to ensure our freedom, not as a codex to keep us free from all possible offense.

The 9th Circuit spins its wheels and forces many decisions to be appealed because of what they want the law to be rather than what the law is. The County obfuscates things by creating policies that stifle speech when there is no need to do so, and the Court creates distinctions between worship and religious speech when there is none.

If the Kiwanas can use the meeting room, then the Presbyterians should have just as much right to meet and discuss what they wish under the exact same rules that apply to the Kiwanas.

I'm going to the library to pray.

Library Use Policy

Although I haven't personally had to sort out distinctions like this, I kind of like our library's policy: anyone can use the meeting spaces as long as no selling or direct marketing is involved, and ANYONE can attend (i.e., open to the public).

But using the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as precedent? That's like asking my teenagers to set policy. (sorry - but the 9th really has earned the tag of 9th Circus).

Re:Circus

Re:Circus

The Bill of Rights does not delineate nor enumerate all the Rights we hold so dear, but more importantly it does not restrict any of our Rights. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written to ensure our freedom, not as a codex to keep us free from all possible offense.

Why do you willfully refuse to understand that everyone has the same rights and freedoms, and that those are all equal, and that the purpose of the courts (ideally), is to strike a balance between the exercise of your rights against your neighbour's right not to have your prejudices rammed down his throat.

Why do you refuse to understand that protecting the rights and freedoms of your neighbours also protects your own, rather than restricting them.

Oh, yes, I will grant you that this idea is counter-intertuitive, prima facie, but as an intelligent person you should be able to make the effort to think critically instead of merely reacting. You are not an amoeba or a paramecium.

Go ahead and vent; everybody needs to blow off steam and I do it myself; but after blowing off the over-pressure I cool down again and take time to think things through. So what are you really bitching about here? The fact that you will now not be allowed to assault people with your "One Real Truth"? Go ahead and pray at the library; pray anywhere you want to. Under the precepts of the First Amendment no one can stop you. The only thing others can stop you from doing is holding them as a captive audience.

And a public library is a public place; a church is a private place. Holding a mass or service in publc necessarily violates the rights of others to not be subject to what will be seen as your particular heterodoxies and heresies.

Re:Circus

Holding Mass or any other religious service in public does not "[N]ecessarily violates the rights of others to not be subject to what will be seen as your particular heterodoxies and heresies."

You go on to state: "The only thing others can stop you from doing is holding them as a captive audience." I certainly agree with you, everyone has the freedom to not listen to that which they do not wish to hear. However I fail to see where the religious group is holding anyone hostage or forcing anyone to go to their services. Similarly the Democrats who meet in the library and the Kiwanas who meet in libraries are not holding anyone hostage. Being open to the public certainly does not equate to mandatory attendance.

I don't think religious groups should meet in a library. I don't think klansmen should meet at all but it really does not matter much what I think as both groups have the right to do so. If a group meets the requirements for using a meeting room; they must be allowed to use a meeting room notwithstanding the content of their ideas.

Re:Circus

Democrats are not a religious group, neither are benevolent associations religious groups. And holding your mass in a limited public forum violates my right to not have to listen to it the same way you're blaring Eminem through a boom box does. If I don't like your noise level, I can reasonably call a cop and have you ticketed for it if the volume exceeds local statutes. You do not have a right to hold a limited public forum hostage.

Huh???

>You do not have a right to hold a limited public forum hostage.
So how is the church group holding the space hostage??
Fang, you are a serious religiophobe. You are persecuting religion because it scares you just like how homophobes wrongly discrimnate against gays.

Re:Huh???

The simple fact is that churches are not closed to the public. Only recently did some churches start locking their doors. The library can not have it both ways, either the rooms are for public use or they are not.

Plus a "mass" was not held in their space, rather a "worship ceremony" was, but such in attention to detail is the exact sort of thing that lead this case to court in the first place. If a library wants to deny a person from using their room, there are a great many ways to go about doing it (claiming the room is already booked, whenever a black sheep applies being the simplest way), aside from the illegal way.

Discrimination is discrimination.

Re:Huh???

Fang, you are a serious religiophobe.

Rolling On The Floor Laughing.

Off hand I'd say that you are projecting your shadow; do you hide behind anonymity because you fear honest and open debate?

In any event, your statement is arrant claptrap; aside from being an attack on the person; which attacks are usually perpetrated beccause the attacker has no rational refutation of the points that person has made. Since my religion is a matter between me and God, and you, sir, are no God, then my religion and religious views are none of your business; and you are not qualified to remark on them anyway.

This attack is also common to the ultra-wrong-wing nut; if you don't like what somebody says, launch a smear campaign against him. Reactionary bigots scream the sort of thing you did against anyone who dares to criticize Israel, for instance, for the commission of its crimes against humanity. Say that it is wrong for Israel to use cluster bombs and incendiaries against civilians and they revile you as an anti-Semite.

You'll have to do better than that. If you had actually read and considered what I had written above, you would understand that this ruling is an effort to protect religious freedoms, not degrade them.

Thank you for playing, try again sometime.

Re:Huh???

The simple fact is that churches are not closed to the public. Only recently did some churches start locking their doors.

This is an equivocation; locked doors do not mean closed to the public. The doors are not locked to shut out the public, but as a matter of security for the property. Churches -- except for a very small few -- are open to the public, but in a limited and highly discriminatory way. Anyone is allowed to wander in, but must adopt the doctrine of the congregation to be considered members of the group. Universal Unitarian churchs accept any celebrants without demanding that they give up the doctrines they currently espouse; Buddhism -- which I see as more of a spiritual movement than a religion -- likewise accepts adherents without considering the doctrines they hold as necessarily contraditory to Buddhism.

don't see it

I don't see how having the meetings or services are infringing on the rights of anyone else. Against gays getting married? Don't have gay sex and then marry the guy.Against transubstantiation? Avoid the Sunday early morning Mass at the Fleemer St. branch.Fang, the mean evil that one wants to avoid with religion in the public square is the appearance of coersion or unavoidability. Organized, public and / or mandatory expressions are banned in public places for that reason.A private meeting of people having a religious doesn't infringe on anyone else's freedoms and other groups are allowed to use the space meaning there is no prejudice in favor of religous groups, or exclusion of others.The 9th Circuit is uncharacteristically wrong, I think.

Somewhat offtopic

Fang,

Mass is capitalized when it refers to the religious service. I would be delighted if you, and the many others on here were to make that distinction.

On a second more offtopic question did the reporter from the Courant get in touch with you. I asked that her address be forwared to you.

Re:Huh???

"Churches -- except for a very small few -- are open to the public, but in a limited and highly discriminatory way. Anyone is allowed to wander in, but must adopt the doctrine of the congregation to be considered members of the group. "

What does this mean? And are other non-religious groups, say a political or social (hobby) group just as discriminatory? Are you seriously implying that to enter into the physical building of a church means one is expecting to become a member of the religion that worships there? Plus what do you do with the varying levels of involvement and devotion that exist in every religious group? Not to mention the various other activities that happen in the physical location of churches that have nothing to do with the religion they are dedicated to - boy scouts, after school care, AA meetings, etc.

Re:Circus

Italics are quotes from Fang:
The fact that you will now not be allowed to assault people with your "One Real Truth"? Go ahead and pray at the library; pray anywhere you want to. Under the precepts of the First Amendment no one can stop you. The only thing others can stop you from doing is holding them as a captive audience.

A few points:

You never did address this: The only thing others can stop you from doing is holding them as a captive audience. How was the church group holding anyone captive?
Go ahead and pray at the library; pray anywhere you want to. Under the precepts of the First Amendment no one can stop you.
No one can stop you except a librarian with a meeting room.

Re:Somewhat offtopic

Mass is capitalized when it refers to the religious service.

While I concede that it would be correct to do so as a point of grammar, it matters nought how delighted you would be, we are not required to make any distinction. We are not responsible for your sensitivity and are under no onus to pander to them. You would be better of asking yourself why you allow us to push your buttons so easily.

. . . did the reporter from the Courant get in touch with you. I asked that her address be forwared to you.

Not that I'm aware, and whyever for? If an e-mail from her or the paper came in as spam it's been flushed. Did you give them an address to forward hers to, and if so, which one? If I know I'll keep an eye out for their message.

Re:Circus

No one can stop you except a librarian with a meeting room.

Actually, the correct reply to my misstatement should be: no one can stop you as long as you are praying quietly. If you're going to be a public nuisance about it, then, of course, all bets are off.

Re:Somewhat offtopic

One would think you would wish to be grammatically correct, even if you choose not to be civil enough to correctly describe others' religious services as they wish. Alas I was incorrect; you choose to be neither civil nor grammatically scrupulous.

The reporter asked for the addresses of two posters to LISNews. I had neither, but you have a link to a your (I assume) web page so I suggested she try that. It was about a week ago so perhaps some other exciting news in Hartford pulled her away.

Re:Somewhat offtopic

The First Amendment does not require civility, and as far offense goes, why do you offend me with your lack of enthusiasm for civil liberties?

Mdoneil, there is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere. If our expression is going to be constrained to "civility" there will nothing of import anyone will be allowed to speak about.

I suppose the reporter didn't want to bother with the effort of tracking me down as I haven't heard from her. I have been considering making it easier, but against that I have to balance the question of how easy do I want to make it for raving lunatics to send me hate mail.

Mayhap I'll try dropping them a line.

Re:Somewhat offtopic

First Amendment (the Amendment of 1983) Has to do with annual PM meetings with Aboriginal leaders, of course that has nothing to do civility. Then again perhaps it does.

Re:Somewhat offtopic

Ha! Well done! At least you're learning to think outside the box.

Bravo!

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