The American Humanist Association’s Apignini Humanist Legal Center is telling the school board in Monroe, Ohio that they can’t give a valuable piece of property to a local church for a dollar rather than putting it up for bid to see what it would fetch on the open market.
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.”
One of the members of the school board is also a mention of this particular church. This reminds me of a story I broke a few years ago about a similar situation here in Michigan, where then-Rep. Bart Stupak tried to put an amendment into a bill allowing the Coast Guard to give a piece of federal property in his district to a local church rather than putting it up for bid. When I busted him on it, he withdrew the amendment.