An unlikely alliance of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian lawyers' group that usually fiercely opposes the ACLU, along with several other groups, is contesting a proposed Bureau of Prisons rule that prohibits "materials that could incite, promote, or otherwise suggest the commission of violence or criminal activity" from being placed in prison chapel libraries. It would enable prison officials to remove from libraries books that they deem to be "advocating or fostering violence, vengeance or hatred toward particular religious, racial or ethnic groups" or advocating "the overthrow or destruction of the United States."
The ACLU has framed the issue as one of religious freedom. David Shapiro, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, explained: "BOP officials need to follow the law, not engage in the business of banning religious material. Distributing and reading religious material is as protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as worshipping in churches or preaching from the pulpits. It is not the role of the government to dictate what is religiously acceptable."