Demolition of D.C. "Ugly Church"

February 27, 2014

A demolition crew is tearing down the Third Church of Christ, Scientist in Washington, D.C. - and that is a good thing! While some seem excited by the destruction of the brutalist building due to aesthetic taste, this destruction also serves as a positive sign for religious free speech rights (the photos are ones I took of the building a few years ago). The demolition of the building involved multiple legal maneuvers as the members of the congregation fought for the right to destroy their own building. In 2011, I published a study in Free Speech Yearbook analyzing the arguments about the building. I concluded that the congregation correctly invoked their religious free speech rights to justify destroying the building. Later in 2011, I wrote a piece for Communication Currents that summarized my study. The banner on the side of the building is the text of Jeremiah 29:11. A picture of the building being torn down shows that banner still hanging, which provides a fascinating image for the verse. It will be interesting to see what the congregation builds next.