The Immaculate Conception Men’s Group, part of a West Virginia church, really wanted to bring in musician John Angotti (below) for a concert. The cost was $3,000 and they raised most of the money… but they got a $1,000 grant from a strange place:
The Harrison County Commission kicked in $1,000 to help a local church group stage a holiday concert which will bring a popular singer home.
The initial request to the commission was for $1,500, but the county commission has a policy of only granting $1,000 for one-day events. The commissioners voted to hold to that policy, asking the men’s group to come up with an additional $500.
“The commission’s sponsorship of the church’s concert featuring this proselytizing artist raises serious constitutional concerns,” wrote FFRF Legal Fellow Katherine Paige.
Funding the concert violates the principle that the government must be neutral toward religion, “especially when the program is explicitly Christian and clearly meant to influence people to convert to Christianity,” continued Paige.
To comply with both the federal and West Virginia Constitutions, the commission must rescind the donation and recover it from the church, the letter concluded.
It’s irrelevant that the concert would be free and open to the public since the goal of Angotti (and, presumably, the church) is to win over converts.
FFRF’s Katherine Paige also filed an open records request asking for any and all documents relating to this donation.
County officials better hope this was just a case of ignorance and not a deliberate attempt to promote Christianity through government resources.