Maryland county grants open to all nonprofits (June 20, 2019)

Any future Montgomery County, Md., grants will be open to all nonprofit organizations regardless of religious affiliation, after FFRF raised concerns with a recent initiative providing grant funds to faith-based facilities.

A concerned taxpayer reported that, earlier this year, the county awarded $200,000 to a variety of faith-based facilities for “security operations.” The county’s solicitation for applications for these grants left no doubt that these taxpayer funds were only available to “houses of worship” and that secular nonprofits would understand that they need not apply, even if they faced plausible threat of hate crimes.

FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne wrote to Montgomery Chief Executive Marc Elrich, noting that while it is laudable for the county to work with at-risk organizations in the community to improve security and safety, offering funds only to houses of worship attaches an unconstitutional religious criterion to the grant program. Jayne requested assurances that future county grant programs will not be offered only to houses of worship.

Montgomery County responded and informed FFRF that any future funding, should it exist, would be made open to all nonprofits with a demonstrated need, “irrespective of any religious affiliation.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation