It was just as the 2023 national March for Life was being held in Washington that security officers at the National Archives put a bull’s-eye on Christians.
They ordered students and others with pro-life hats on out the door. They claimed the students’ private expression of their beliefs violated government rules there.
They quickly backtracked, and agreed to a court requirement that such discrimination stop, when confronted with the Constitution’s requirements.
But the case isn’t over yet, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, because it’s still not known who sicced the officers on the Christians.
“Someone gave the order to go after pro-lifers, and we will find out who it was and why,” the organization said in its announcement about mediation in the case beginning.
“When a federally funded (aka taxpayer-funded) institution decides to target pro-life visitors by harassing and humiliating them, it doesn’t get to just sweep it under the rug after being caught,” the organization said.
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The ACLJ has been representing four clients who were a part of three different groups that visited the National Archives that day.
“All of our clients were told by National Archives employees that they had to take off their religious, pro-life apparel or leave the museum,” the legal team explained.
“When one of our clients questioned the order, a National Archives security officer said that the apparel would ‘incite others’ and that she was ‘disturbing peace.’ Yet another one of our clients was told that her T-shirt was ‘offensive’ and had to be covered up or removed. Her shirt read simply, “MARCH 4 LIFE 2014: Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group, Glen Carbon, IL.'”
Employees at the Smithsonian, nearby, also engaged in similar discrimination that day, by confronting a group of students from a Christian school that day, simply for wearing “pro-life” on their hats.
Both groups quickly agreed to consent orders stopping the discrimination.
And the Archives removed the officers involved.
But, the ACLJ said, “Admitting it was a mistake and removing the officers is all well and good after the fact. But the real question yet to be answered is who gave the order to target pro-life guests in the first place? Museums and institutions like the National Archives, as well as the Smithsonian, receive financial support from the federal government, provided by you and me through our taxes. I can assure you that if I were to show up at a museum that my taxes help pay for and found myself being turned away – and even cursed at or insulted for my pro-life views – I’d be livid, to put it mildly.”
The ACLJ said it still needs to find out who pushed for the discrimination.
“That’s why we didn’t drop our lawsuit or just accept their public apology. Someone needs to explain why this happened, because it seems clear that someone powerful decided to put a target on …”
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that members of Congress called out the institutions for their behavior, and a vendor blamed a “supervisor” on duty that day.
The injunction under which the buildings are being run now require that employees are “ENJOINED from prohibiting visitors from wearing t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc., that display . . . religious and political speech.”
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