First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
Government shouldn't fund Christian marriage center, lawsuit says

By The Associated Press
09.13.06

TACOMA, Wash. — Thirteen residents of Western Washington have sued the federal government and a Vancouver-based marriage counseling center, saying it has used federal money to promote a fundamentalist Christian agenda.

The Northwest Marriage Institute received $97,750 last year from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Bush administration’s initiatives to support faith-based organizations, according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court here yesterday. The organization used the money to promote its Bible-based marriage counseling, in violation of the separation of church and state called for by the First Amendment, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs, represented by Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in the lawsuit they were offended by federal tax money being used to support the organization.

“This program trains people in how to make their marriages conform to one narrow interpretation of faith,” the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said in a news release. “The federal government has no business forcing the taxpayer to subsidize that.”

Bob Whiddon Jr., the Marriage Institute’s director, said yesterday he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment, but said his organization has followed rules for spending the grant money.

The Marriage Institute notes on its Web site that its services are available to people of all faiths.

The lawsuit, which names HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt as a defendant, asks for the return of the grant money, plus interest, as well as an injunction prohibiting further federal funding for the Marriage Institute.


Related

High court won't hear AmeriCorps case

Justices let stand lower court ruling that allows use of federal funds in placing young teachers in religious schools. 01.09.06

7th Circuit reinstates challenge to faith-based initiative
Panel says Freedom From Religion Foundation does have standing to sue over church-state constitutional issue. 01.17.06

Court says judge can order Notre Dame to pay back education grant
Legal expert calls case a warning to faith-based organizations to be careful how they spend government money. 04.18.06

Ruling: Detroit churches have right to receive improvement grants
But federal judge says some of the money city has promised to congregations is for repairs that violate church-state separation. 08.10.07

Charitable choice/faith-based initiatives

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Friday, July 25, 2008 | 07:58:08
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links