This seems horrible to me. How does it strike you?
I've heard from several sources that officials at the City of Salem are seriously considering paying the Salem Alliance Church to use the old Capital Press building that the church owns as a temporary public library while the library building at the Civic Center undergoes renovations.
Here's the problem with this: the Salem Alliance Church is notoriously anti-gay. Meaning, anti-homosexual, anti-LGBTQ, anti-anything that their archaic view of sexuality considers a sin.
So if this ill-considered scheme comes to pass, taxpayer money would be going to an organization that flaunts the inclusive policy prominently displayed on agendas of the Human Rights Commission, which is based in the Salem Mayor's and City Manager's Office.
Now, my understanding is that Oregon churches are partially exempt from anti-discrimination laws.
So I'll leave it to better legal minds than mine to determine whether it would be legal for the City of Salem to enter into a contract with a church that openly declares same-sex marriage and same-sex sex to be a sin, and refuses to say whether it would hire an otherwise qualified LGBTQ person to work at the Broadway Commons or Broadway Coffeehouse.
My concern isn't so much whether this would be legal, but whether it would be right.
After all, any money paid by the City of Salem to rent or lease the Capital Press building as a temporary library would go directly into the Salem Alliance Church bank account, thereby supporting a religious organization that discriminates against LGBTQ people.
I've been told that the Salem Alliance Church is eager to enter into a contract with the City of Salem because the church wants to pay off what it owes on the Capital Press building purchase. The big question is whether city officials should be equally eager to join hands with a church that is anti-gay.
Here's a sign that those officials are aware of how controversial this move would be.
The agenda for the June 26 meeting of the Human Rights Commission LGBTQ Rights Task Force contained this item.
Then, the agenda for the July 2 meeting of the Human Rights Commission had an item related to the library relocation.
Sure seems like City officials are justifiably worried that relocating the library to a building owned by an anti-gay church could raise questions about the City of Salem's commitment to LGBTQ rights.
(I've requested minutes of the June 26 and July 2 meetings in either audio or written form, as they aren't available on the City of Salem web site.)
So here's a suggestion to City officials: DON'T DO IT.
Choose a place to temporarily house the Salem Public Library that isn't connected with an organization that calls same-sex marriage and same-sex sex a sin.
Here's links to my previous blog posts about the archaic views of the Salem Alliance Church:
Two reports of how Broadway Coffee House/Commons discriminates against LGBT people
Salem Alliance Church pastor talks about sin of same-sex sex
Broadway Coffee House does discriminate against gay people
Why supporters of gay rights should boycott Broadway Commons