For Baptist Convention, Kansas City Violates Church-State Separation

What would you do with $65,000 in tourism tax money? If you’re the government of Kansas City, Mo., $65,000 in tourism taxes is just the right amount to help a ministry prepare for a Baptist convention.

In a clear violation of the separation of church and state, the government of Kansas City, Mo. is spending $65,000 in tourism taxes to help Modest Miles Ministries prepare for the upcoming National Baptist Convention USA. At least this is what American Atheists alleges in a lawsuit they have filed in U.S. District Court. American Atheists contends that the cities usage of these funds to assist a faith-based institution for a faith-based reason is a clear violation of the separation of church and state, as provided by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In April, the city approved $65,000 in municipal funds from the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund to assist Modest Miles Ministries with transportation costs for the National Baptist Convention USA.

american atheists kansas city baptist convention
American Atheists President David Silverman. Photo by Mike, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Two local atheists, Eric Abney and Joshua Stuart, are named a plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The city of Kansas City, Mo., as well as several city officials, including Mayor Sly James, are also named in the lawsuit, which states:

“Plaintiffs pray this Court grant the requested relief barring the unconstitutional payment to Modest Miles Ministries because Defendants authorized the grant for the sole purpose of providing indirect aid and support to a pervasively sectarian organization comprised of member Baptist churches and church auxiliaries for its local religious event. Defendants’ grant of municipal taxpayer monies for religious purposes demonstrates municipal preference for the Baptists over no religion and preferential treatment of the Baptists over the Lutherans by officials under color of state law with respect to neutral public benefit programs in Missouri.”

City officials have declined to comment on the lawsuit, because of course they have. There isn’t really a way to lie out of this one.

h/t Raw Story

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