FFRF Monitors Church Grant Lawsuit

Morris county lawsuit victory image

FFRF and New Jersey taxpayer David Steketee filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit Mendham Methodist Church v. Morris County, NJ on August 10, 2023. The Foundation previously litigated and won a lawsuit in 2018 when the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled  that public money could not be used to repair a church.

On February 7, 2024, the district court ruled that FFRF and Steketee could not intervene directly in this new round of litigation because the court granted the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General’s separate motion to intervene and therefore FFRF and Steketee’s interests were now adequately represented by the AG’s office. FFRF is now weighing its options for preserving its involvement in the case, given that the churches’ ultimate goal is to undo its prior litigation victory.

At issue again is the funding of churches through Historic Preservation grants. The plaintiffs in this new case argue that previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions invalidated the decision that barred churches from participating in these funding programs and that the state’s Religious Aid Clause violates the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause.

FFRF and Steketee are represented by local counsel Paul S. Grosswald. FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover is also continuing to work on the case on behalf of FFRF. This case is in the New Jersey District Court with the case number 2:23-cv-02347.

Freedom From Religion Foundation