FFRF Wins School Child Evangelism Subsidy (March 20, 2009)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and Wisconsin taxpayers filed suit in Dane County, Wis., on April 25, 2008, suing the Department of Public Instruction and the Rio Community School District for drawing money from the state treasury for the benefit of religious organizations. The state-funded Rio school district has refused to charge rent for after-school meetings for elementary students on school property by the Child Evangelism Fellowship Group. It also uses time and resources to send home flyers publicizing the after-school evangelism. The Child Evangelism Fellowship describes itself as a “Bible-centered, worldwide organization composed of born-again believers whose purpose is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, disciple them in the Word of God and establish them in a Bible-believing church for Christian living.” The Complaint charges that the subsidy of the ministry violates the Wisconsin State Constitution, which was amended to permit public school buildings to be used by religious groups after hours, provided reasonable compensation is paid. The Foundation was also concerned about CEF posters being placed at child’s eye view by water coolers and lockers promoting CEF and its after-school treats.

On March 20, 2009, the case was dismissed at the request of the Foundation. After the lawsuit was filed, the CEF stopped meeting in Rio schools. FFRF and its complainants will monitor the situation.

Freedom From Religion Foundation