For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, email@example.com
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to officials at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on behalf of an alumnus and his wife, objecting to a university-sponsored fundraiser for a Christian church.
At a Rutgers football game, a portion of all concession stand proceeds were donated directly to the Church of God in Christ for All Saints. The letter states that as a public university, Rutgers’ encouragement of patrons to make monetary contributions to a Christian church is an unconstitutional state endorsement of religion. The letter also states that patrons who wished to purchase concessions had no choice but to contribute to the church. While the American Humanist Association strongly supports charitable giving, the letter advises the university that there are innumerable ways in which the school can promote charity without entangling itself in religion.
“Numerous cases make clear that even the mere appearance of a joint exercise of authority between Church and State provides a significant symbolic benefit to religion and therefore has the unconstitutional primary effect of advancing religion,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “In this instance, the state university is not only symbolically endorsing religion, but is also providing a direct monetary benefit to a particular Christian church, which violates the Establishment Clause in an elementary sense,” she added.
The letter demands that all state-sponsored fundraising efforts on behalf of a Christian church cease immediately.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
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.