Los Angeles, CA—Following a demand letter from the American Atheists Legal Center, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Hollywood Community Police Station has removed from its lobby a large kiosk promoting the Church of Scientology.
“When a massive display promoting a particular religious viewpoint appears in a police station, that is immediately cause for concern,” said Geoffrey T. Blackwell, staff attorney for American Atheists. “We’re pleased that the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners took immediate action to resolve this issue. A police facility is where crime victims go in times of acute emotional distress. Not only it is beyond inappropriate for them to encounter a church’s recruitment campaign, it’s unconstitutional as well. People depend on the police for real-world assistance, not religious endorsements.”
American Atheists was first made aware of the interactive kiosk—which featured a large video screen, an interactive touch panel, and free publications produced by the Church of Scientology—when a local resident contacted the organization with their concerns.
An August 13 letter from American Atheists, sent to Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff, explained that the display violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and demanded that the display, along with any others like it in the Department, be removed. In addition, American Atheists requested all public records from the Department related to the installation, placement, and maintenance of the display.
The display was removed within 48 hours of the letter. However, in response to American Atheists’ record request, the Department stated it was unable to identify any documents or records related to the display in its possession.
“I’m grateful to the LAPD for resolving this situation quickly and correctly,” said the complainant, who wishes to remain anonymous. “The LAPD is supposed to ‘protect and serve’ the community, not be used as a tool to promote religion.”
Featured image at top courtesy of Scientology Media. (CC BY-SA 2.0)