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Church band fights to perform at community event, wins

WND Staff

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'Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Establishment Clause does not permit government hostility toward religion'

October 5, 2019

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

A church worship band has been allowed to perform at a community festival after a major constitutional-rights group intervened.

Event organizers had rejected the band, claiming Christian songs might "offend" some people.

But the American Center for Law and Justice stepped in and convinced officials that the band had a First Amendment right to perform at the public event.

The name of the church band and the community weren't identified by ACLJ.

The legal team said the annual community event, featuring local talent, aims to "promote unity and to bring the community together."

When the church band applied, the organizers replied that they could approve the song list "due to the religious content."

The songs, the community leaders said, might "offend" someone.

"Ironically, the festival organizers' attempts to promote inclusiveness and community resulted in quite the opposite: the exclusion of a vital member of its community – the church," ACLJ said.

ACLJ argued the event was supported by the local government and scheduled to take place on public property.

That meant the First Amendment applied, prohibiting "exclusion of the church's band based on religious content," the report said.

The lawyers explained that the First Amendment doesn't allow the government to abridge freedom of speech.

"This prohibition applies to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment," ACLJ  said. "The government may not suppress or exclude the speech of private parties for the sole reason that the speech is religious."

ACLJ said the U.S. Supreme Court "has made clear that the First Amendment prohibits the government from denying religious groups access to its facilities for expressive purposes due to the content of the group's message."

The court noted that "the government violates the First Amendment when it denies access to a speaker solely to suppress the point of view he espouses."

ACLJ explained it's a common misunderstanding that "the Establishment Clause imposes an affirmative duty upon the government to suppress private religious expression. This is not the case. In fact, the Constitution 'requires the state to be a neutral in its relations with groups of religious believers and non-believers; it does not require the state to be their adversary.'"

"The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Establishment Clause does not permit government hostility toward religion," the organization said.