Wisconsin county defunds Christian group after FFRF complains

WI Youth For Christ

Racine County has nixed its funding of a Christian youth group after the Freedom From Religion Foundation objected to taxpayer money going to an unambiguously sectarian organization.

Racine County had been bestowing its largesse on a group called Youth For Christ since 2013 to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars each year ($100,000 from 2013 to 2016 and $50,000 per year since then). In July of this year, FFRF contacted the county to raise constitutional concerns about the funding and to ask for all relevant records pertaining to the religious boondoggle.

In its initial response to FFRF, the county defended its funding of Youth For Christ because it stated that “Racine County believes in a comprehensive and holistic approach to rehabilitation and knows that individual success is based upon all seven dimensions of wellness — spiritual wellness being one of those components.” This response was unacceptable to FFRF, since it’s unconstitutional for Racine County to fund religious activities, even if it was describing them as providing “spiritual wellness.”

The county recently seems to have had a change of heart, however. It has finalized its 2020 budget and will not be handing out money to the Christian group.

FFRF praises the county’s adherence to constitutional principles, albeit a tad belatedly.

“We commend Racine County’s realization that it wasn’t being a good steward of taxpayer funds,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The tens of thousands of dollars that was being given away to a Christian group can now be used for the benefit of all Racine County residents.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a Wisconsin-based national state/church watchdog with more than 30,000 members, including over 1,400 in Wisconsin.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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