Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries applied to hold church services in the Contra Costa County (Antioch branch) public library's meeting room, and was turned down. Faith Center sued, and District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White granted a preliminary injunction on May 23rd, requiring the library to allow four-hour church services to be held one Saturday every other month, as the Faith Center had made the requisite showing that they were likely to prevail on the merits. The court enjoined the library from enforcing its "Religious Use Policy," which initially provided that "library meeting rooms shall not be used for religious purposes," but was amended during the suit to prohibit using library meeting rooms "for religious services or activities." The policy was amended again, so that it now prohibits the use of library meeting rooms "for religious purposes." According to documents filed in the case, using library meeting rooms for church services is using the facilities for "religious worship," and as such is properly excluded from useing the library's meeting rooms. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Supervisor John Gioia said the meeting room policy was "important to taxpayers who didn't want to subsidize the services."
While meetings that concern religion are clearly protected, what about having religious services in the library? The plaintiffs relied on Good News Club v. Milford Cent. Sch., 533 U.S. 98 (2001), a case that allowed after school instruction based on religion, as the instruction fit within the general policy of the after-school program, including fostering good morals. Is a full on religious service the same thing? We are about to find out.