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There’s nothing “alarming” about Teen Challenge receiving federal funding merely because it is a Christian-based organization.
The receipt of government funds by organizations like Teen Challenge is entirely permissible, as those funds foster an important and secular interest: the treatment and recovery of citizens from addiction.
The mere fact that a corporation or association espouses certain religious beliefs does not preclude it from receiving the same benefits, including funding, that are available to non-religious organizations.
Furthermore, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly permits religious corporations to hire only employees of a particular religion. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this provision of Title VII in Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–Day Saints v. Amos, 483 U.S. 327 (1987).
But it seems from the article you’ve cited that Teen Challenge requires only those employees in executive ministry positions to adhere to specific religious principles, which presents no constitutional crisis at all.
As for the Minnesota state legislature’s decision to increase the funds received by Teen Challenge, perhaps this is merely a function of the nearly 86% success rate of the Teen Challenge recovery program.
When a government opts, in a constitutional manner, to provide funding to drug treatment programs, both religious and non-religious, it is not prohibited from increasing the amount of funds received by those programs that have a consistent track record of proven success.
Your post reminds me of a case we litigated in 2008 on behalf of Teen Challenge in Tennessee. The issue did not involve faith-based funding, but did address an important issue.
As you may recall, the organization wanted to build a facility on 13 acres of land it purchased in the Nashville area. Government officials initially approved the zoning request – then revoked approval and enacted an ordinance specifically targeting and discriminating against Teen Challenge.
We filed suit in federal court and a jury found that the local governing bodies violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the Fair Housing Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act. And the jury awarded Teen Challenge damages totaling $967,995.
The case should send an important message to local governments – discriminatory action aimed at religious organizations can be costly. And when it comes to providing government funding to organizations, local governments shouldn’t shy away from funding organizations simply because they are Christian-based.
And, one more thought when it comes to faith-based funding.
The Obama Administration is in the process of finalizing its rules for providing faith-based funding. And, there’s discussion about requiring religious organizations to cover-up religious symbols if they receive federal funding for services – like operating a soup kitchen.
Come on Barry, is it really necessary to remove pictures or cover up crosses when a religious organization uses its facilities to feed the hungry?
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