FFRF asks W.Va. county to end aid to religious school

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is insisting that a West Virginia county end its monetary support to a private Christian school.

FFRF has received multiple complaints concerning Mingo County’s ongoing financial support of Ambassador Christian Academy. Since 2014, the school has been renting a county building at the cost of only a buck a year. Additionally, the county has been paying the vast majority of the academy’s utility bills.

In a letter to the county, FFRF informs Mingo County Commission President Diann Hannah that by renting space to the school for less than fair market value and by paying the school’s utility bills, the county violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment clearly prohibits the government from fiscally supporting religious schools.

FFRF insists that the school cannot continue to operate in county-owned facilities without paying fair market value.

“Any sale of the property must also be for its fair market value,” writes FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line. “Once the government enters into the religion business, conferring endorsement and preference for one religion over others, it strikes a blow at religious liberty, forcing taxpayers of all faiths and of no religion to support a particular expression of worship.”

FFRF is requesting a written response with assurances that Mingo County will take immediate steps to terminate the unconstitutional lease arrangement with Ambassador Christian Academy.

“By entangling the local government with a religious institution, the county has blatantly violated an enshrined American principle,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It must terminate this agreement immediately.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonreligious nonprofit with more than 30,000 members across the country, including in West Virginia. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of state-church separation and educate on matters of nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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