Madison committee rejects funding of religious ‘pregnancy center’

A city committee in Madison, Wis., voted Jan. 17 against helping finance housing owned by CareNet Pregnancy Center of Dane County, an evangelical antiabortion group that ministers to pregnant women.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote to the Madison Community Development Block Grant Committee on Jan. 17, to oppose the government financing, which would extend $550,000 in low-interest loans to CareNet for a new 36-unit apartment building. 

Elliott wrote, “We are very concerned that these funding grants will ultimately be used to subsidize an evangelical Christian and anti-abortion ministry and will not further the purposes of the designated funds.”

The letter noted that CareNet’s application did not disclose the group’s purpose, which is “to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ in both word and deed.”

FFRF’s letter highlighted CareNet’s religious programming and argued that any secular objectives could not be separated from evangelical Christian programming. 

The committee voted 5-2 against funding the project. City staff had initially recommended committee approval.

Even if the financing had been approved, it was unclear how CareNet would abide by nondiscrimination provisions required for city contracts.

Freedom From Religion Foundation