Mesa County Library Posts Disclaimer on Religious Display

Freedom of Expression & Religion

Description:

After a letter from the ACLU of Colorado, a disclaimer was added to a Mesa County Library display informing viewers that the government did not endorse the message of the display which contained religious symbols, quotes from religious text, and other religious statements. In a February 6, 2007 letter to the Mesa County Library, ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass wrote that, “In the absence of a prominent and conspicuous disclaimer, it seems very likely that a reasonable observer could conclude that the government endorses the religious message found in the library display.” The library subsequently posted a disclaimer informing all viewers that the “Mesa County Public Library District does not endorse, support or advocate in any way the view points of exhibits and exhibitors.”

ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein noted, “The library is to be commended for making a forum available for members of the public to express diverse views on issues of public concern. Such a public forum must be open to all viewpoints, including religious ones. Because of special constitutional provisions concerning religious freedom, however, the library should make sure that it is not inadvertently suggesting that it endorses or agrees with those religious views. Several days ago, a reasonable observer may have walked away with the impression that the library endorses the religious views of the current display. The library has now made it clear that the views expressed in this public forum are not necessarily the views of the library.”


Attorneys:

Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney



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