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Board of Education Can’t Give Public Property to Church, Says Humanist Group

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, dniose@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., Oct. 24, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on behalf of concerned citizens to the Monroe Local School District Board of Education in Monroe, Ohio, regarding its plans to effectively give away school district property to a local Christian church.

At its September 2014 meeting, the Board of Education discussed the disposal of “Old High School” property, valued at $1.2 million, which is claimed to require extensive renovations and removal of hazardous asbestos. The school board considered the following three options: selling the property to the City of Monroe, demolishing the building and removing the hazardous waste or selling the property to the Monroe First Church of God for the nominal price of one dollar. The letter states that there has been no indication that all other options for the sale of the property have been explored and that the Board’s actions have shown a lack of transparency and due diligence. The letter also states that if the Board were to give the “Old High School” to the church, this action would be a violation of the Establishment Clause.

“This essentially free transfer of government property to a particular Christian church is an unconstitutional advancement of the Christian faith,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “No other entity in the community has enjoyed this kind of privilege.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said, “The Board of Education should consider all of its options instead of favoring one particular Christian church.”

The letter demands that the Board refrain from selling or transferring the property to the church. The letter also demands that the Board disclose all documents related to the appraisal of the property and the costs of demolition and asbestos removal, as well as all emails and other correspondence between Board members and other parties relating to the property.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.