North Carolina needs to make sure that its new budget does not violate the Constitution, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is insisting.
The recently passed North Carolina budget includes grants or possible grants to several organizations that appear to offer only faith-based services, raising worries that taxpayer funds given to these organizations will be used to advance religion in violation of the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions. These inappropriate recipients include Christian Recovery Centers, Cabarrus Cooperative Christian Ministry, Changing Destinies Ministry, Ministry Seven and Brunswick Christian Recovery Center.
FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne has written a letter to the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management expressing the state/church watchdog’s concerns and asking for public records in relation to the taxpayer money
Unfortunately, such religious funding is nothing new. In 2018, FFRF partnered with the Center For Inquiry to challenge items in the North Carolina budget that disbursed $250,000 to Cross Trail Outfitters, a Christian ministry that proselytizes through outdoor activities. The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from granting discretionary funds for religious purposes, but once the money has been awarded, it is difficult to retrieve. That is why FFRF is requesting copies of all contracts with certain religiously affiliated organizations that could now receive state funds.
“Our secular nation was founded in part by refugees seeking freedom of conscience, who wanted a land where the government could not tell them which ministry to support, or what to believe or disbelieve,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor contends. “Taxpayers are not responsible for funding pervasively sectarian organizations.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members and several chapters across the country, including almost 800 members in North Carolina and a state chapter, the Triangle Freethought Society. FFRF protects the constitutional separation between state and church, and educates about nontheism.