Creationist Takes on City after Library Nixes Program

May 14, 2001

Genesis Commission founder Chris Pfeifer launched a First Amendment lawsuit against the city of Charleston, South Carolina, after the county library refused him meeting-room space for a creationist seminar that contained religious instruction. However, plaintiff attorney Mathew Staver told American Libraries on May 4 that he had halted legal action because the library had lifted its prohibition against faith-based meeting-room use.

Staver is also about to withdraw a lawsuit against the city of Pensacola, Florida, that he filed for Light Ministries cofounders Marsha May and Thailyn Reed after they were denied permission to present a workshop titled “Woman Have Always Had an Audience in Jesus” in one of the West Florida Regional Library System’s meeting rooms, WFRL Community Relations Specialist Melissa Thacker confirmed.

Pfeifer is poised to settle out of court with the Portage (Wis.) Public Library as well. Director Hans Jensen told AL that the board voted May 8 to remove the religious and political speech ban from its meeting-room policies. “No policy in the country has been upheld that has a religious- or political-speech exclusion involving a public library,” Staver asserted. Pfeifer had won a similar lawsuit against the city of West Allis, Wisconsin, in 2000.