Last month, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (in Florida) voted to spend $30,000 on a local concert.
Sounds perfectly fine until you realize it’s a gospel concert, it takes place in a local church, and the church’s pastor is the brother of one of the commissioners.
Commissioners voted June 25 to award $30,000 to sponsor the second annual Brownsville All-Star Concert, scheduled for Aug. 7 at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, where the pastor is the brother of one of the county commissioners.
Now, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is calling on county administrator Jack Brown to recoup that money arguing, “the grant of taxpayer dollars to a religious group for the express purpose of putting on a religious program is in direct violation of the plain language of the Florida Constitution.”
The debate isn’t whether they’re allowed to spend money to promote tourism — they are — but whether they should be using government funds to promote Christianity, which is really what this is all about:
“Nobody is contesting that they have the authority to disperse funds,” [Americans United’s attorney Ian] Smith said. “You can give tax dollars to a religious group for non-religious activity, like funding a soup kitchen. But if you’re talking about a proselytizing gospel concert, that’s a religious activity and you can’t do it.”
If the funding is allowed to stand, you can expect lightbulbs to go off above the heads of other local government leaders. It’s another way to promote religion under the guise of something secular.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)