The Covington Baptist Association in Alabama has a simple strategy for success: “Get more men to church.” Because if they can get the men, they figure, the rest of the family will follow suit. That’s why they’re bringing in manly speakers like former wrestler Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase and Bow Hunter (it’s a thing) Scott Vernon.
Oh, they’ll also throw in a free steak if you attend.
Supposedly, the money is being spent to renovate the building the Baptists are meeting in, but that’s irrelevant — it’s county money being used to promote Christianity.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Commission Chair Bill Godwin (I swear I didn’t make that up) a letter warning him about the illegality of these actions and demanding they get the money back:
Regardless of whether these funds are to be spent on building renovations or on the ministry program itself, the Commission’s “donation” of public money to the CBA is unconstitutional because it will directly benefit a Christian ministry.
Funding a Baptist ministry violates this principle of neutrality, especially when the program is explicitly Christian and clearly meant to influence people to convert to Christianity.
FFRF also filed an open records request with the Commission to find out what discussions were had about this group and the donation.
The only way this would’ve been a more flagrant church/state violation is if Godwin handed the ministry a giant check with the County Seal stamped right onto it. It’s hard to believe the Commissioners had no idea this was wrong. I’m not sure who tipped FFRF off about what was going on, but that person deserves a lot of gratitude.