Denver International Airport (DIA) has a chapel that is used by Christians, Jews and Muslims; an interfaith organization that represents the three religions, DIA Interfaith Chapel Inc., leases the space from DIA. Mass is available for Catholics on Sunday and holy days of obligation. Catholic passengers are alerted to the Mass schedule via the public address system (as reported in today’s Denver Post, it goes something like, “Catholic Mass begins in 15 minutes in the chapel”).
However, because one individual registered a complaint saying that this was a violation of separation of church and state, no more such announcements are permitted until airport attorneys decide what to do. The local chapter of the ACLU is defending the ban arguing that only Catholic services are announced on the public address system. What the ACLU did not say was that Jews and Muslims have opted not to use the system and are defending the right of Catholics to do so.
Catholic League president William Donohue remarked as follows:
“This is a straight First Amendment case that will be won in court, if that is necessary. The issue is not the establishment clause, but freedom of speech. What is amazing about this is that the champions of free speech, the ACLU, are defending the gag order. Had activists from the North American Man/Boy Love Association used the public address system to alert pedophiles which room they had rented to conduct their S&M exercises on eight-year-olds, the ACLU would be defending them on the grounds of free speech.
“This event is striking. Those of us who are upset with Hollywood rot are routinely told to ‘turn the channel’ or ‘don’t go to see the movie if you object to it.’ But this bit of wisdom seems to apply only to those who defend traditional values: if it applied across the board, then those who object to religious services being announced on a public address system would simply ignore the message. The reason they won’t is because they, like the ACLU, are at bottom the real censors.”