A Christian activist group was in court Wednesday seeking an injunction against the Village of Plainfield, alleging that the village’s meeting room policy is unconstitutional because it bans religious meetings or events.
On Nov. 28, Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit against Plainfield after the village rejected its request to use a Village Hall meeting room for “an educational program promoting a Christian view of the founding of America.”
The organization contends that the meeting room policy, which doesn’t allow rooms to be used for religious services or events, violates its First Amendment rights, as well as the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
READ: RELIGIOUS ACTIVIST GROUP FILES SUIT AGAINST PLAINFIELD
This week, Mayor Mike Collins said he couldn’t comment on the lawsuit.
“It’s being handled by our lawyers,” he said.
Village employee DeAnn Snodgrass previously told Patch that the village’s meeting room policy doesn’t allow the use of the rooms for religious presentations.
“We’re not allowed to open up our location to commercial or religious [groups],” she said. Click here to read the entire policy.
On Wednesday, Liberty Counsel filed a motion seeking an injunction that would allow religious groups to use the meeting rooms.
“The village must allow Liberty Counsel to hold public meetings in a community room without regard to Liberty Counsel’s religious nature and purpose or the religious viewpoint or content of Liberty Counsel’s message, on the same terms and conditions as any other group that is permitted to use the community rooms,” the motions states. “ … The village is enjoined from enforcing the policy in a manner that treats religious and secular groups unequally.”
The group’s application requested use of a meeting room for a gathering of 15-30 people on Sept. 11, 2012. On the application, the group refers to itself as a “nonprofit, religious and educational” organization.
Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver said the organization is asking Plainfield to change the policy “because it’s unconstitutional,” adding that the First Amendment either “protects all of us, or it protects none of us.”
Liberty Counsel’s website proclaims the organization’s aim is to “restore the culture by advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family.”
According to court documents, the village has until Jan. 28, 2013, to respond to the motion. A hearing is set for Jan. 31, 2013.
In addition to the meeting room policy change, the lawsuit seeks unspecified “nominal damages” and court costs.