FFRF ensures businesses benefit, not churches, from Wis. Town’s grant program (March 26, 2013)

The Common Council of Muskego, Wis., voted 6-1 against giving a $3,000 grant to a local church to build a new sign after the Freedom From Religion Foundation weighed in on the issue.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a March 26 letter to the Common Council, after a concerned Muskego resident informed FFRF that the city’s Community Development Authority recommended Council approval of a grant to the church.

Elliott explained that the grant to the church would be an unconstitutional use of government funds for a religious purpose.

“The city cannot continue with the proposal, as it would violate the rights of conscience of residents who oppose government resources being used to support a Christian church,” he said.

Elliott pointed out that the project is beyond the scope of Muskego’s grant program for businesses because the church is not a commercial property. The grant program is intended to create economic development to expand the tax base, so providing a grant to an organization that is tax-exempt is beyond the scope of the program.

The Muskego Common Council voted at their March 26 meeting not to grant the church the $3,000, agreeing the grant money is intended for businesses.

Freedom From Religion Foundation