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May 25, 2005

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I don't agree with garym. According to the Supreme Court, which upheld the club's free speech rights, the Good News Club used prayer in its meetings after school in the public schools.

Justice Thomas wrote for the Court:
"The only apparent difference between the activity of Lamb’s Chapel and the activities of the Good News Club is that the Club chooses to teach moral lessons from a Christian perspective through live storytelling and prayer, whereas Lamb’s Chapel taught lessons through films. This distinction is inconsequential. Both modes of speech use a religious viewpoint. Thus, the exclusion of the Good News Club’s activities, like the exclusion of Lamb’s Chapel’s films, constitutes unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination."

I'm no lawyer, but I suspect the library blundered when it set a policy prohibiting the use of rooms "for religious purposes" rather than having a narrower restriction such as "church services." The church can claim that the policy constitutes viewpoint discrimination, since that policy seems to exclude religious discussion groups while allowing other kinds of discussions. If it had prohibited a certain kind of activity rather than certain ideas, I think it would have had a stronger case.

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