Victory: Defending a Ministry’s Freedom of Speech | American Center for Law and Justice
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Victory: Defending Freedom of Speech

By Erik Zimmerman1430319813623

Recently a city tried to discriminate against a religious ministry, preventing it from having the same rights as every other organization.  We took action and achieved an important victory.

The ACLJ recently helped to defend a religious ministry’s freedom of speech in Ontario, California. The ministry had entered a contract and paid the requisite fees to use a city-owned convention center to host a religious conference on the same terms that non-religious groups are permitted to use the facility.

Two weeks before the conference, the city began to include the name and date of the conference on its large electronic advertising board, which is one of the benefits that is included in the rental fee. A few days later, however, the ministry received a phone call from the convention center’s events coordinator in which he said that they had to pull the ministry’s ad from the advertising board because the name of the conference included religious terminology like “prophecy” and “Bible.”

The ministry then contacted us, hoping that the issue could be resolved quickly since they did not want to miss out on important advertising time before the conference.

We took immediate action.  The law is clear on the issue.  More than twenty years ago, our Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow argued and won the Lamb’s Chapel case which established that religious organizations are entitled to use public facilities on the same terms and conditions as non-religious groups. This principle applies to advertising associated with the use of public facilities, such as the use of an electronic advertising board to publicize upcoming events.

We discussed the matter with the city’s attorney and soon received assurances that the conference would be advertised on the electronic board as scheduled. The ministry’s leaders expressed their appreciation for our assistance with the matter. We are glad to be able to assist religious organizations when their constitutional rights are jeopardized by government actors.

We will continue fighting in courts, in Congress, and in cities and towns all across America to defend religious liberty.

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