MONTGOMERY, Alabama – When state officials ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court (search) building last year, advocates of church and state separation claimed victory. Eight months later, a new controversy has them crying foul.
Larry Darby, president of the Atheist Law Center (search), plans to hold a rally outside the state capitol on May 6. At the same time, Christians will gather in observance of the national day of prayer.
If it rains, state lawmakers will allow the religious gathering to move inside. But when Darby requested the same access for his atheist group, his state representative, Republican Jay Love (search), turned him down.
"Many of the beliefs that he's espoused and said publicly, a great deal of my district finds offensive. A great deal of the people of Alabama would find offensive," Love said.
Groups organizing any activity inside Alabama's capitol require the sponsorship of an elected official. But by putting the burden on state legislators to determine what organizations can rally inside the capitol building, critics say the process becomes political.
Some state officials say atheists may have had better luck securing the capitol had they not chosen to rally on a day honoring religion, especially in this Bible belt state still reeling from the removal of the Ten Commandments (search) statue.
Click here for a report by Fox News Channel's Jonathan Serrie.