Back in April, the Kansas City Council (in Missouri) unanimously approved a $65,000 grant to Modest Miles Ministry so it could host the National Baptist Convention. Tax dollars were literally being used to promote religion.
The city offered a flimsy defense: The money was only going to be used for shuttle buses to and from the convention center… as if transportation to a religious conference was somehow a secular use of public money. Which makes as much sense as saying taxpayer money could be used for speakers’ travel expenses since they weren’t flying on Christian planes.
If that’s the best argument they had, this was going to be a quick court battle. But at the very least, the city said it wouldn’t provide any money to the Baptist group while the lawsuit was going on.
That lawsuit has finally been settled — or rather, dismissed — and American Atheists got what they wanted.
City officials passed an ordinance last month repealing the April ordinance that gave a $65,000 grant to the Baptist group. That money will now be put back in the Neighborhoods Tourist Development Fund for use by another group to be named later.
“We are pleased that the city agreed to repeal the unconstitutional ordinance granting the National Baptist Convention $65,000,” said American Atheists’ National Legal Director Amanda Knief. “However, it shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit, months of negotiations, and tens of thousands dollars in legal fees on behalf of the local plaintiffs for the city to follow Missouri’s constitution.”
She’s absolutely right about that last part. Even if the conference brought thousands of people into the city, make no mistake, this was taxpayer money boosting a religious organization. It never should have happened in the first place. If the Baptists can’t cover their own costs, they shouldn’t have run a convention of this magnitude.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier)