06/04/2012 United States (Charisma News) – A Sunday school program for at-risk youth has been thrown out of its public meeting place in Baton Rogue, La. But Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries isn’t giving up on the kids it loves so easily.
The East Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission kicked Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries’ Sidewalk Sunday School to the curb due to a ban on religious activities. The commission may end up rethinking its stance, though, since Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against it.
“Faith-based groups shouldn’t be singled out for discrimination—especially a group like this that has provided such selfless service to at-risk youth and their parents for many years,” says ADF senior legal counsel Joel Oster. “The Sidewalk Sunday School program has the same constitutionally protected right as any other community group to hold its activities at a public park. There’s no constitutional basis to throw them out, and it’s a mystery why the commission would even want to do so in light of the valuable work this group does for the community.”
Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries had operated at a public park for five years before the ban stymied its efforts. However, ADF said the commission allowed at least one other religious group to hold an event at the park despite the so-called ban. ADF says the commission actually invited a local church to host a Community Outreach Day that included the distribution of religious literature.