Church Grants Blocked In Louisiana

A federal judge’s 2007 decision barring payment of taxpayer-funded grants to two Louisiana churches has led to a settlement agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union and the state.

The ACLU’s Louisiana chapter dropped its suit against Gov. Bobby Jindal and, in exchange, the state agreed not to funnel taxpayer money without conditions to selected churches that offer non-religious social services.

The lawsuit challenged a Louisiana law that directed $100,000 in taxpayer money to Stonewall Baptist Church in Bossier City and $20,000 to Shreveport Christian Church. The funds were not subject to oversight or a competitive bidding process, and the bill offered no purpose or justification, according to the ACLU.

“The state of Louisiana may work with religious organizations to achieve secular goals,” said Daniel Mach, director of litigation for the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, “but funneling taxpayer dollars to houses of worship without any neutral grant-making process, restrictions on use, or secular purpose is a blatant violation of the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.”