Government libraries can block religious groups from worshipping in public meeting rooms, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The decision came from a case involving the Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries, a Christian group which won a court order allowing them to hold a "prayer, praise and worship" service in meeting rooms open to other groups at a Contra Costa County library branch. A federal judge said it had a First Amendment right of religion to use the public's facilities.
But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in a 2-1 decision.
"Prohibiting Faith Center's religious worship services from the Antioch meeting room is a permissible exclusion of a category of speech," Judge Richard Paez ruled.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which is defending the church group, called the decision "astounding." The group, he said, would consider appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or asking the appeals court to reconsider. Read More.