FFRF: Madison library stays open on Easter Sunday

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has persuaded the central library in Madison, Wis., to serve patrons on Easter Sunday.

FFRF had contacted Madison library staff last year to emphasize that Easter Sunday was neither a federal nor a Wisconsin holiday, and that the library regularly opened otherwise in spring on Sundays.

“It is unconstitutional and inappropriate for city libraries to close on this Christian holy day,” FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote to Library Director Greg Mickells last May. “This practice violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it not only promotes religion over nonreligion but also impermissibly favors Christianity over other faiths.” 

FFRF asked that the public library not be shut down on Easter Sunday in future years.

The City Attorney’s office of Madison responded last June that it was taking into consideration FFRF’s request.

“I have asked the library staff to discuss and carefully consider your concerns,” Assistant City Attorney Steve Brist wrote. “The calendar has not been finalized for 2016, and this matter may have to be discussed at a meeting of the Library Board. The Madison Public Library is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian entity.”

FFRF has recently learned that in keeping with the spirit of Brist’s letter, the main branch of the Madison Public Library system will indeed be open this Easter Sunday.

FFRF is delighted about the expanded schedule.

“Public libraries should not follow a religious calendar,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “They should be open to their patrons as much as possible, and we’re glad that the Madison Public Library folks have realized that.”

In 1996, FFRF won a federal lawsuit overturning Good Friday as a Wisconsin state holiday that mandated closure of all state offices at noon for purposes of worship.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a state/church watchdog organization with 23,000 members nationwide, including more than 1,300 in Wisconsin.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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