Wolverhampton Council is in trouble with a local church because it refused to put up a religious poster in one of its libraries. Such has been the ferocity of the attack, that the policy of not providing advertising space for religion is being reconsidered.
Bill Nicholls from Holy Trinity Church tried to put up a poster advertising a religious play that would be performed in the church in Tettenhall Library. He was told it could not be put up because of its “religious nature”.
Mr Nicholls, a Christian activist attached to the “Faith Regeneration Unit”, said: “People of all faiths expect the freedom to put up posters which are within the law. Libraries are community buildings and the church is a community. We sometimes forget that when we champion the rights of others. I was specifically told the poster could not be put up because it was of a religious nature.”
His protest was supported by local Hindus, Muslims and other “faith leaders”.
Council leisure chief, Cllr John Reynolds, said: “The advertising of events of a non-commercial nature is an important public information function of the library service. Space for community publicity in city libraries is very tight and there are many demands on it and, as a result, we have had guidelines on publicity in libraries which have been followed for more than 15 years without incident, as far as we can recall. The guidelines currently state that libraries should not display material of an overtly religious or political nature, but if there is any confusion, the matter should be referred to the city librarian for a decision. I regret any misunderstanding. There should be a distinction between information on events held at local churches and posters promoting, for example, a particular political party or religious group.”
Cllr Reynolds said the council was currently reviewing its guidelines on the matter to ensure they are fairly applied across all library premises and would consult with the Inter Faith group. He said the guidelines would be published on the council website as soon as possible so that people could be clear about the criteria for displaying information material.