FFRF has publicly funded group remove religious curriculum

 A government-funded Ohio recovery center has modified its program to be secular, following a Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint.

The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties last year made a grant to Light House Sober Living, a faith-based recovery facility. The grant was to help convert a former church into a recovery residence.

Light House Sober Living’s program emphasizes “faith and spirituality,” holds “spirituality to be its cornerstone value,” and mandates daily participation in 12-step programs. The facility building has an engraved bible verse [Luke 19:13], which is also highlighted on its Facebook page. While the goal of helping recovering addicts is laudable, it is illegal for public funds to finance a faith-based recovery home, FFRF contends.

“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ‘prohibits any sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the sovereign in any religious activity,’ as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled,” FFRF Diane Uhl Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne wrote in a letter last October to Kirk Halliday, executive director of MHRB of Erie and Ottawa Counties. “Furthermore, the Ohio Constitution expressly prohibits the government from funding a place of worship, or from favoring any one religion. … It would be disingenuous to argue that the Light House Sober Living facility does not promote religion over nonreligion.”

In a recent reply, Halliday informed FFRF that the Light House Sober Living facility had removed the religious aspect of its programming. “Thank you for reminding us of the importance of the First Amendment,” Halliday wrote in an email.

FFRF is pleased about the change of curriculum.

“Organizations receiving taxpayer money should know that they can’t push a religious agenda,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “We’re glad that the Light House Sober Living facility modified its program.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has chapters all over the country and 23,000 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 500 in Ohio and a state chapter, Northern Ohio Freethought Society.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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