Council for Secular Humanism v. Crews, Florida, (2007-present)
For years, two halfway houses in McNeil, Florida, Prisoners of Christ and Lamb of God Ministries, have provided substance abuse counseling, housing, and other services to recently released prisoners, all entirely on a voluntary basis. This helps to reintegrate released prisoners back into society, reducing the number of repeat offenders. Their reward? Getting sued by the Amherst, N.Y.-based Council for Secular Humanism in May 2007. Specifically, they sued the State of Florida and two faith-based contractors under the state’s Blaine Amendment, which prohibits appropriation of state funds for “sectarian” purposes. The Becket Fund is defending the ministries in the lawsuit. In July 2008, the district court dismissed the case, finding that the use of public funds by the ministries did not violate Florida’s Blaine Amendment—an anti-Catholic law from the late 19th century—because it advances secular goals of reintegration of criminal offenders and the reduction of recidivism. The court of appeals reinstated part of the case, and the remaining claims are now back in trial court for discovery. The Becket Fund will continue to represent Prisoners of Christ and Lamb of God Ministries in defending this lawsuit.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.349.7224.
*Photo courtesy of Prison Fellowship–used by permission
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April 8, 2010 Blaine Amendment: The Last of the Jim Crow Laws Ken Blackwell, Breitbart