Late last month, the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists (MACRA) learned that Montcalm Community College was planning a special lunch just for local pastors. It was even advertised on the school’s website:
This wasn’t an outside group using the school’s space. This was a school-sponsored event organized by an employee and at which the school’s president Bob Ferrentino was scheduled to speak.
MACRA leader Mitch Kahle soon sent Ferrentino a letter calling for a stop to the event.
As a public taxpayer-funded community college, MCC and its employees in their official capacities, including [event organizer] Lisa Lund and you, are prohibited from engaging in activities that advance religion generally over non-religion, promote one religion specifically over others, serve a principally religious purpose, and/or involve excessive government entanglement with religion…
MCC is a public institution of higher learning and knowledge — not a church of Christian ideology. Public tax dollars, resources, and employees, may not be used to fund, organize, support, coordinate, promote, or hold religious activities or events.
A local news article about the event says it’s been going on for only two years, but the point is still the same: Because a local atheist activist stepped in, the school was spared a potential lawsuit. Conservative Christians in the area will surely find reason to complain over the cancellation of a taxpayer-funded luncheon for religious leaders, but it’s the right move all around.
Kahle, who also drew attention recently to a superintendent promoting religion in a local newspaper column, deserves credit for defending the wall of separation between church and state.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)