April 10th, 2008 10:43 EST
Pittsford Community Library bars ballet poster
PITTSFORD, NY -- The Foundation for Moral Law, a national, religious- liberties legal organization, demanded in a letter sent today to the Pittsford Community Library in Pittsford, NY, that the Library cease its religious discrimination against a Christian ballet studio that has been denied access to the Library's public bulletin board, even though other ballet performances and even other religious events have been posted there. The Foundation sent the letter on behalf of Sam and Sandy Arena of the Amanda Rose Belmont Dance for Joy Studio and Yahweh Ballet after Mrs. Arena was told on March 14, 2008, by Pittsford Library Director Marjorie Shelly that the ballet could not display a poster at the library for a May 17, 2008 ballet performance because the dance studio was "religious."
( See the Foundation's letter and the Dance for Joy Studio's poster here.)
Judge Roy Moore, President of the Foundation and the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, said of the library's discrimination:
"Once again, Christians are being denied access to the public square. There is no logical or legal justification for the Pittsford Library to mistreat Dance for Joy Studio members simply because of their faith. Such religious discrimination in a public facility is not only offensive but unlawful under New York law and the U.S Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court."The Pittsford Library written policy about the Bulletin Board allows the posting of "non-commercial notices pertaining to: a) CULTURAL, b) HEALTH AND SAFETY, or c) EDUCATIONAL interests." The Library allows a variety of local events to be advertised on the Bulletin Board, including local dance productions and a recent spiritual meditation lecture by the " Science of Spirituality." By opening the Bulletin Board to the posting of cultural and community events, the Library is engaging in religious discrimination by denying the Dance for Joy Studio's poster because it is "religious."
As the Foundation's letter explains, the Library's denial of Dance for Joy Studio's poster not only contradicts the Library's own policy and practice, but it is also unlawful. New York Civil Rights Law Section 40 prohibits the withholding of "the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges" of public facilities on the basis of "creed." The U.S. Supreme Court has also repeatedly held, as it did in the case of Good News Club v. Milford Central Schools, 533 U.S. 98 (2001), that to deny an organization equal access to public facilities because of the organization's religious viewpoint is a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
Noting that other local libraries in Penfield, Greece, Irondequoit, and Rochester have posted the Dance for Joy Studio's poster, the Foundation demanded that the Pittsford Library likewise open its Bulletin Board to Dance for Joy Studio by April 18, 2008, to avoid further legal action.
The Foundation for Moral Law is a non- profit, religious-liberties organization located in Montgomery, Alabama , dedicated to restoring the knowledge of God in law and government through litigation and education relating to moral issues and religious liberty.