The Lansing Housing Commission in Michigan allowed residents to use a community room for birthday parties, tutoring, and events. However, the commission refused to grant access to the community rooms for “religious worship, services, or programs.” Learn why religious discrimination is not cured by discriminating against all religions equally at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
The Lansing Housing Commission provides subsidized housing in central Michigan. In many of the facilities, the housing commission provides a community room. The commission often grants access to those community rooms for birthday parties, Boy Scout meetings, tutoring sessions, and other community events. However, the commission refused to grant access to the community rooms for “religious worship, services, or programs.”
His Healing Hands Medical Clinic provides a range of services to the community inside the housing commission’s facilities. When its leaders asked to use the community room for religious services on Sundays, the church was excluded. The commission explained that it was welcome to use the community room to meet the physical needs of the community, but could not “say anything about Jesus” or “bring any Bibles” with them.
In court, the commission argued that their policy was permissible because it denied use of the community to all religions equally. But, the court rejected that reasoning. Excluding all religions is the very definition of religious discrimination, which is not cured by discriminating against all religions equally.
Government commissions are not permitted to pick and choose which viewpoint it will permit in public places and which it will refuse. The First Amendment requires our government to be neutral in dealing with the various religious viewpoints that make up our public square.