This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
The city of Groveport, Ohio, decided to ban the sale of "faith-based" items at its annual Apple Butter Day festival this year.
Then it relented, after being notified by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression that its censorship was problematic.
The foundation reported the situation developed when Jake and Jan Seabaugh, who had had booths at previous events, decided not to participate this year because the city banned the sale of "faith-based items."
Their products include wood carvings and stained glass, including items with religious themes like crosses, doves, a Star of David, and carved signs with the words "Peace, Believe, Love."
In a letter to the city, FIRE explained the First Amendment protects the expression of religious and nonreligious views alike.
"The Supreme Court has addressed this sort of scenario more than once. In Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia, the court held that a public university violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech by denying a religious student magazine access to the same funding resources made available to secular student-run publications. As the court stated, the 'government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction,'" FIRE reported.
FIRE reported, "To Groveport’s credit, the city’s law director called FIRE today and confirmed the city will allow the sale of faith-based items at tomorrow’s festival. The city also reached out to Jake Seabaugh, as well as a church and a religious organization that had previously reserved booths at Apple Butter Day, to notify them of the policy change. Although the application deadline has passed, the city will allow these groups to vend at the festival tomorrow if they so choose. The law director also confirmed the city will initiate a formal review of the vendor policy, including the other unconstitutional restriction on 'socially offensive language.'"
City officials initially called for the ban by claiming it was needed to avoid "endorsing" religion.
But that reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment, the foundation explained.
"The Supreme Court most recently reaffirmed this principle in Shurtleff v. City of Boston. There, the court held that Boston violated the First Amendment when it denied the plaintiff permission to fly the Christian flag on a city plaza, as the city regularly allowed other outside groups to hold ceremonies and events at the plaza where they could fly flags of their choosing on city flagpoles," the foundation reported.