Court Hears Case on Censorship of Bible Verse in Ads

A federal appeals court will today hear a case filed by two Michigan men who claim the Bible verses included in their ads to an unemployment insurance agency were wrongly censored.

Alliance Defense Fund attorney Kevin Theriot will represent Andrew and Glenda Grosjean in the case before the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The Grosjeans, both Michigan unemployment advocates, allege in the suit that Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency should not have removed Scripture references in their personalized ads that appear in a resource given to unemployed workers who have been denied employment benefits.

The agency allowed the Bible references in the past but in 2005, the UIA changed their tune. When the Grosjeans attempted to re-post their ads, an official told them the content violated the so-called "separation of church and state" and ordered the religious material removed from the ads without their consent.

The Grosjeans filed their lawsuit in November 2005. A lower district court has ruled against the Grosjeans but the ADF attorney will seek to appeal the decision today.

Theriot will argue before the court that the UIA officials violated the Grosjeans' free speech rights by choosing to censor their advertisements.

In the past, Andrew Grosjean's ad stated in part: "I know the rules and will give you 100%. Call me for undivided attention. Last minute cases welcome. 'Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment and do justice, for my salvation is near to come.' Isa. 56.5." Glenda Grosjean's previous ad stated in part: "Courteous and qualified, I will not treat you like a number. An EXPERT in unemployment law, I will aggressively conquer your case. 'And what doth the LORD require of thee but to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with thy GOD.' Micah 6:8b."

ADF said the actions of the agency amount to religious discrimination. A favorable ruling in the case is important to prevent religious discrimination at other government agencies, according to the organization.

"Christians shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs," said Theriot.  "The government cannot single out religious speech to be banned from a private ad in a publication open to secular views.  That is clearly unconstitutional."