FFRF stops $1.5 million funding to SC private religious group (November 9, 2023)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on September 21, 2022, challenging the unconstitutional funding of a private religious school in the state of South Carolina. State lawmakers earmarked $1.5 million in the 2022-23 budget to Christian Learning Centers of Greenville County to help get its new facility off the ground. CLC is a religious organization whose mission is to “provide biblical instruction for public school children at no cost” and has done so through biblical release-time instruction to students in Greenville County schools for 25 years. 

The lawsuit argued that public funding to a private and religious educational institution violated two provisions of the South Carolina Constitution, as well as the rights of all citizens and taxpayers of the state of South Carolina, including plaintiffs and those who were similarly situated.

FFRF successfully defended against a motion to dismiss the case in the early stages and the defendants agreed at that time to not disburse the funds to CLC while litigation was pending. 

In August 2023, CLC withdrew its request for the funding from the state. CLC explained that it “irrevocably” withdrew its request because of FFRF‘s lawsuit. Because CLC withdrew its request, the court found that the case had become moot.
The case was filed on behalf of four South Carolina taxpayers — Christopher Parker and Ian Whatley, both Greenville County residents, and Gere Fulton and Michael Brown, both Richland County residents — against defendants South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and other state officials. Three of the plaintiffs were members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Parker, who had children in the Greenville County Schools, was familiar with the intent of Christian Learning Centers to evangelize students.

The plaintiffs were represented by local attorney Steven Buckingham, as well as FFRF attorney Patrick Elliott and Legal Fellow Karen Heineman. This case was in The Court of Common Pleas in Richland County, SC.


Press Release

Freedom From Religion Foundation