In Virginia, Baptisms to be Allowed in Public Parks

June 3, 2004

Source: American Civil Liberties Union

On June 3, 2004 the American Civil Liberties Union reported, "Under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Falmouth Waterside Park Manager Brian Robinson has agreed not to prohibit baptisms in Stafford County, the ACLU announced today. Robinson also told the ACLU that the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority, which controls access to the public park, expects to issue written policies making it clear that religious groups have the same right to use the park as all other groups. 'This kind of confusion over religious expression in public places is not uncommon,' said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. 'Government officials often seem not to understand that private religious expression is protected in public forums. Afraid of violating separation of church and state by permitting religious activities, they end up obstructing freedom of religion.' The controversy over baptisms in the park surfaced on Sunday, May 23, when Robinson told Rev. Todd Pyle of the Cornerstone Baptist Church that religious activities were not allowed in the park. Pyle was in the park at the time and had just performed a series of baptisms in the Rappahannock River, which borders the park."

See also: Christianity, Civic