Freethought Today · September 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF aided in church-funding case

FFRF is grateful for the backing of kindred organizations in a New Jersey case it is fighting against the unconstitutional funding of churches.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union recently submitted an amicus brief in support of a suit that FFRF and member David Steketee filed in state court in late 2015 against Morris County, N.J., challenging major grants of tax dollars to repair or maintain churches. FFRF is specifically objecting to $1.04 million in allotments to Presbyterian Church in Morristown.

FFRF contends the grants clearly violate Article I, Paragraph 3 of the N.J. Constitution that guarantees: "nor shall any person be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right." The amicus brief agrees with that contention.

The case is currently before the New Jersey Supreme Court, which has accepted a direct appeal of a trial-level decision allowing Morris County to disburse millions in taxpayer funds for church repair, despite the state Constitution provision barring such use.

FFRF is hopeful that the New Jersey Supreme Court will confirm that Morris County cannot compel taxpayers to support or repair churches by upholding the plain language of the state Constitution. With strong national groups rallying to its side, its confidence has received a boost.

FFRF's lawsuit is being handled by attorney Paul S. Grosswald. FFRF Staff Attorneys Andrew L. Seidel and Ryan Jayne are co-counsel.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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