Secular Groups to N.C.: Stop $250K Payment to Christian Youth Ministry or Face Legal Action


For Immediate Release: June 13, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

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North Carolina taxpayers will be forced to bankroll the proselytization of children to the tune of a quarter million dollars if a provision of the state budget is allowed to remain in place. The Center for Inquiry, along with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, have formally insisted that the state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services immediately rescind this unconstitutional appropriation that was included in the state’s proposed budget.

The state budget currently allocates $250,000 of HHS’s funds to Cross Trail Outfitters “for purposes of promoting wellness and physical activity for youth seven to 20 years of age.” But Cross Trail Outfitters is not merely an outdoors supply company, but an explicitly avowed Christian ministry that promotes its religion to young men and boys through outdoor activities. The company’s marketing materials boast of equipping youth for a “lifetime of service to Jesus Christ” and helping them to become “better Christians” by learning “Bible truths.” Its website even includes a photograph of a child being baptized.

“There is no gray area here,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “No wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth are necessary to see that this is a $250,000 taxpayer giveaway to an overtly Christian ministry for the purpose of promoting Christianity, and that’s a violation of the Constitution, plain as day.”

“There is no concern for anyone’s religious liberty, and there is no need to consider the wisdom of ‘faith-based initiatives’ subsidizing religious organizations that perform secular services,” said Little. “Cross Trail Outfitters is not a church soup kitchen. It’s a religious ministry whose explicit mission is to proselytize to children. North Carolinians’ tax dollars shouldn’t go anywhere near that.”

In their message to Secretary Mandy Cohen, CFI and FFRF write, “We request that you honor your oath to uphold the Constitution by refusing to disburse these funds,” allowing seven days for meaningful action to be taken. “If we do not hear from you by then,” they write, “we plan on pursuing a federal court order prohibiting your office from disbursing these funds.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.