The Freedom From Religion Foundation is happy to pay a Texas town 20 times the amount the town agreed to get from a church for a controversial piece of land.
The Port Neches City Council is selling a portion of Riverfront Park containing a 10-foot Latin cross to the First United Methodist Church for $100. FFRF objected to a cross on public property, and the City Council move is in response to that.
FFRF is concerned that the city is penalizing itself—and its citizens—by deliberately underpricing to benefit the church. It would be delighted to generously compensate Port Neches, says a FFRF spokeswoman.
"In these times of fiscal austerity and municipal bankruptcies, we are trying to ensure that a city has resources to provide essential public services to its residents," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "$2000 will make that 20 times more certain than $100."
Gaylor notes that the divestiture the city should be making is of the unconstitutional cross, not of valuable public land. FFRF has previously spelled out the suspect nature of the sale: It was discussed in executive conference without a bidding process, and it appears to be a sweetheart deal with a religious organization calculated to "save the cross" and keep it in the same prominent location surrounded by public land. FFRF reproved the city for failure to mandate obvious fencing and clear disclaimers, which any court would require.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dedicated to the separation of state and church, with more than 23,000 members nationwide, including approximately 1,000 in Texas.