SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Christian group told a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that prohibiting it from using a public library room for prayer meetings is discriminatory and violates free speech rights.

Faith Center Church Evangelistic Ministries is suing over a Contra Costa County policy that prohibits religious activities in libraries. It held one "prayer, praise and worship" service last year at the Antioch library before the county banned further meetings.

Judge Richard Paez asked county attorneys why groups like Narcotics Anonymous are allowed when their meetings often involve prayers, discussion of figures like Jesus and help from a "higher power."

Kelly Flanagan, a county attorney, said there's a difference between informal discussions about religion and religious services, which should be banned in public buildings because that would subsidize religion.

The 9th Circuit is reviewing a lower federal judge's decision that blocked the county from discriminating against religious groups on library use.