Americans United for Separation of Church and State today expressed appreciation to a Michigan member of Congress for taking steps to ensure that Coast Guard property in Cheboygan will be sold at fair market value, rather than freely granted to a religious school.
On Oct. 14, Americans United wrote to U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) with concerns about a proposal (H.R. 1291) that would give seven acres of public land to a religious school that has been renting the property.
Americans United subsequently learned that Rep. Stupak will actively pursue an alternative approach to H.R. 1291, contained in the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3619), which is expected to be considered by the full House of Representatives later this week. Crafted by Stupak, the alternative proposal will ensure that the land will be sold at fair market value, rather than given to Cornerstone Christian School without compensation to the government.
In an Oct. 20 letter to Rep. Stupak, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said Americans United is “very pleased to learn from your letter and e-mail from your staff of the same date that you are not seeking to move H.R. 1291 forward because of the constitutional problems with the bill’s proposed land transfer.” Americans United also restated that “the constitutional problems are not fully addressed by the provision in H.R. 3619 because it grants the right of first refusal to the School.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.