Barry Lynn Confused Again

22 03 2007

Filed under: Church and State, First Amendment, Northwest Marriage Institute

While the country awaits a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of public funding of faith-based social services, the secularist group, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, tried, unsuccessfully, to strip funds from a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant recipient because of its religious roots.

A Federal court dismissed a lawsuit yesterday afternoon against the Northwest Marriage Institute, a faith-based social service provider, and Institute for Youth Development, a nonprofit agency that partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide federal grant funding to Northwest Marriage.

The lawsuit was brought by thirteen Washington taxpayers who argued Northwest Marriage’s religious nature excluded it from participation in government programs under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

For years, the Northwest Marriage Institute has provided marriage workshops and other resources in an effort to strengthen husbands’ and wives’ relationships and eliminate poverty. Impressed by the organization’s strong track record, the Administration for Children & Families awarded the group three grants so that low-income couples could take the secular seminars for free. None of the funds were used for the biblical workshops, yet Barry Lynn’s (a former ACLU chief himself) liberal organization argued that Northwest’s religious affiliation should exclude it from participating in government programs.

Fortunately, Federal District Judge Franklin Burgess disagreed, ruling, “It has never been held that religious institutions are disabled by the First Amendment from participating in publicly sponsored social welfare programs.”

“Faith-based organizations committed to serving the public should receive the same opportunities to advance their mission as secular social service providers,” continued Aden. “Organizations like Northwest Marriage provide fundamental resources essential to maintaining a stable and moral society.”

Thank you, Judge Burgess for interpreting the Constitution and not creating new laws.

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