The usually misnamed Liberty Counsel, founded by Jerry Falwell, actually got one right. They’ve reached a settlement with Plainfield, Ohio, which had refused to allow them to rent a room in a library to put on an educational program about religion and the founding fathers.
Today, Liberty Counsel and the Village of Plainfield reached a settlement of the federal lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel after Plainfield unconstitutionally rejected Liberty Counsel’s application for use of town facilities.
In response to Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit, contending that Plainfield’s policies violate the First Amendment and unconstitutionally discriminate against religious viewpoints, the Village has agreed to allow Liberty Counsel’s program and to change its policies. Plainfield’s revised Community Room Policy now makes it clear that “The Village does not prohibit an applicant from presenting civic, cultural, educational or informational programs from a religious viewpoint.” In addition, the Village has agreed to pay Liberty Counsel’s attorney’s fees.
In 2012, Liberty Counsel sought to use one of Plainfield’s community rooms to conduct an educational program promoting our Founders’ Christian values and ideals. The Village denied permission on the ground that its policies welcomed nonreligious groups to conduct “educational, cultural, civic, and informational events” but prohibited “religious groups” from using the community rooms for “religious purposes.”
I have no doubt the information in that program was mostly nonsense, but that is not up to the government to decide. If the library is available for rental to community groups, they cannot discriminate against religious events. I don’t know why this is so difficult for some local officials to understand.