Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Former Library Employee Brings Free Exercise Suit Over Harry Potter Event

In Cape Girardeau, Missouri yesterday, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of library-assistant Deborah Smith who was suspended for ten days without pay after she refused to work at an event that she said violated her religious beliefs. After she returned, her duties were made more labor intensive. This led her to resign for medical reasons. St. Louis Today reports that Smith refused to take part in a July 2007 event at the Poplar Bluff Public Library that was held to mark the release of the book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Library employees were expected to dress as witches and wizards at the event. Smith, a Southern Baptist, believes that the Harry Potter books popularize witchcraft and practice of the occult. Smith's federal lawsuit-- filed after the EEOC and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights upheld her right to sue-- claims that the library's action against her violated her right to the free exercise of religion.