Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rhode Island Policy Banning Religious Group Use of State House May Be Changed

In Rhode Island, a recently appointed state official has discovered a long-ignored formal state polciy that prohibits religious functions or functions held by religious groups from taking place at the State House, even though other non-profit groups may use the State House for events and fundraisers. Today's Providence Journal reports that Department of Administration official Marco Schiappa has recommended that an application by Hispanic Protestant congregations to hold a day of prayer on the State House lawn be approved because the policy has been ignored for so long. Regularly, events like a Catholic group's recitation of the rosary to pray for an end to legalized abortion and a menorah lighting by a Jewish group have been permitted. Religious and civil liberties groups and state officials, including Governor Donald Carcieri, have all called for the policy to be changed. Rev. Eliseo Nogueras, resident of the Hispanic Ministerial Association of Rhode Island, pointed out that Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams who left Massachusetts because of religious persecution.