Vision Iowa May Be Reconsidering Its $140,000 Taxpayer-Funded Grant for a Christian Park May 24, 2014

Vision Iowa May Be Reconsidering Its $140,000 Taxpayer-Funded Grant for a Christian Park

Earlier this week, we learned that Shepherd’s Garden, a Christian-themed park being built in Sioux City, Iowa, was set to receive a $140,000 grant from the taxpayer-funded “Vision Iowa” program:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the Vision Iowa group a letter detailing the constitutional violations that taxpayers would be on the hook for if the courts ruled against them:

… Shepherd’s Garden is of course free to construct their Christian green space, but the government cannot support it. This is one of the most egregious grants for a religious purpose FFRF has encountered. Vision Iowa and the Iowa Economic Development Authority must rescind the grant to comply with the Constitution.

Now, it seems that the Vision Iowa board of directors will meet in a couple of weeks to review their options.

Tina Hoffman, spokeswoman for the Iowa Economic Development Authority, which oversees Vision Iowa, said Friday the board is aware of the complaint and is conferring with legal counsel. A contract for the award has not been completed or signed.

Hoffman and Garry Smith, chief fundraiser for The Shepherd’s Garden, have said the grant would pay only for green space at the park and not for any of the Christian features.

That… makes no sense. Reader Brian said it perfectly in the comments section at the Sioux City Journal:

Hey, using that ‘logic’, the government can use public tax money to pay for the “non-Christian” parts of a church, like the floor, walls, roof, etc. and the church would only need to pay for religious things like stained-glass windows, crosses, the pulpit, etc.

When this is clearly a Christian park, you can’t separate it into secular and sectarian parts. It’s all or nothing. If Christians want to build a park, they’re welcome to fundraise the whole thing. They can’t get financial help from the government.

If Vision Iowa doesn’t figure that out in the next two weeks, they’ll soon be on the losing end of a lawsuit.

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