City Council Member Justifies $7,000 Budget Item for Child Evangelism Group by Claiming It’s Not ‘Religious’

Just as the Pierce County Council (in Washington) was getting ready to approve their 2014 budget last week, the council members decided to amend it to include one additional $7,000 expense.

That money would go to Child Evangelism Fellowship, better known to most of you as the group that sponsors the elementary-school-evangelizing Good News Club:

The money would go towards renting space at local fairs, according to the director of the Pierce County chapter Marlene Stoll.

“We just want to push God’s love for us and how it can make a difference in our life,” Stoll said Saturday night.

Jim McCune, the elected official who suggested the donation, offered justification for his lawsuit-worthy decision:

Pierce County Council. Jim McCune is in the center.

McCune said Friday night Child Evangelism Fellowship is non-denominational, and the money would not go towards religious items.

“Yes, (CEF) may come from a certain book (the Bible), but it’s not a so-called religious foundation. Completely separate,” McCune explained.


That’s the worst excuse for an illegal action since everything Rob Ford said last week.

CEF is Christian, through and through. Just because they don’t prefer Presbyterians over Lutherans doesn’t make giving them taxpayer money legal.

And since CEF’s very existence is predicated upon “seeing every child reached with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, discipled and established in a local church,” McCune’s statement makes no sense at all.

Stoll’s vocal appreciation of the donation isn’t helping her case, either:

Stoll has no insight into the legality of a donation she said she never expected. She merely wants to help her community’s youth.

“We’re not pushing a church, honestly,” she said, “We’re pushing Jesus, and his love for us.”

In her mind, it’d be illegal for the city to give her money only if she were working for a particular church. But because she wants to evangelize Christianity in general, there’s no problem, right?!

Wrong. I don’t expect her to know any better. But I do hold McCune to a higher standard as an elected official. He’s putting the entire county in jeopardy of being on the losing end of a lawsuit because he wants taxpayer money to be used to preach Christianity.

If CEF was an Islamic organization, this wouldn’t have even been discussed. The suggestion would’ve been laughed out of the realm of possibility immediately. But because it’s Christian, McCune is hoping no one makes a big deal about it.

The council will be approving the budget tomorrow. If you live in the area — hell, even if you don’t — make sure you let the council members know why this is unacceptable behavior on their part. They can promote whatever religion they want privately, but when they work for the taxpayers, religion must take a backseat.

The Council invites public comment by using the “contact us” link at or by calling (253) 798-7777. The Nov. 19 meeting begins at 3 p.m. in the Council Chambers, located on the 10th floor of the County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma.

Once the Council approves a budget, Executive Pat McCarthy will have 10 days to sign or veto it.

If these council members have any sense of responsibility and any shred of intelligence, they’ll remove that amendment before approving their budget.

***Update***: The Humanists of Washington are already condemning this budget item:

“The County has no business using tax dollars to fund a religious organization’s evangelism activities,” said Humanists of Washington President Sam Mulvey. On his local radio show Ask An Atheist, Mulvey posed the rhetorical question “Imagine if Tacoma gave me $1500… to take your children… and tell them that religion poisons everything. Is that something you would like? Is that something you want in schools?” He continued, “The concept of a secular government protects the people in the minority [as well as] people the majority.”

The group is asking residents to attend tomorrow’s final public comment session.

***Update 2***: Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, responded to this situation via email by saying, “Nondenominational” does not mean “nonsectarian.” She reminds us:

Good News Clubs are being established in public elementary schools, and they target children in their very first years of schooling.

Public schools have a kind of cloak of authority in the minds of little children. They cannot make a distinction between an activity that takes place in their school and one endorsed by their school. They think that if something is taught in their school, it must be what the school wants them to believe.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • DougI

    Yeah, officer. That money I gave to the hooker wasn’t for sex, it was for directions. Honest. But one more down in the pathetic excuses when caught category.

    • Holytape

      “No, officer. I didn’t ask “Where can a fell’er get a ‘happy ending’?” You misheard me. I ask “Does ‘Old Yeller’ have a happy ending?” I’ve never seen the movie….”

  • Holytape

    I will give you a complete and detailed explanation why Children’s Evangelical Fellowship is completely and totally different than a religious program. Here it is. Jesus. I hope that the proceeding detailed and complete explanation clears things up.

    • SattaMassagana

      Ask Bill O’Reilly: Christianity is not a religion, it’s a philosophy

  • velveteenRabbit

    that wouldn’t fly in king county… lol

  • kccoallday

    FFS this sounds like the “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a philosophy” argument…

    • Jasper

      What’s even more astonishing is that they think the tactic of simply trying to avoid the R-word to get around the letter of the law, is actually going to fool the rest of us.

  • abb3w

    Ah, more limited government… limited to pushing Christianity in general, rather than any other faith or a specific sect. Of course.

    While I don’t expect an elected official to know the law (unless they themselves are admitted to the state’s bar), they should at least know when to check with the lawyers. While there’s plenty of blame for Jim McCune, it sounds like the council attorney Susan Long might have even more to answer for.

  • dandaman

    Does it ever end?

  • Jasper

    “Stop murdering that person!”
    “It’s not murder. It’s causing their biology to stop functioning. Murder is when you kill someone because you’re on drugs.”

    • islandbrewer

      It’s like when Emmet says “the RCC doesn’t ban condoms because they’re contraceptives, the RCC bans condoms because they show that you’re not giving fully to your partner by trying to prevent a woman from getting pregnant.”

  • Stev84

    “Nondenominational” is like saying “I don’t want any ice cream” and getting “You must have some ice cream! The flavor doesn’t matter!” in response.

  • Ingersollman

    Enter FFRF!

  • kielc

    I sent a protesting email to the council, for all it’s worth.

  • dandaman

    but, but..jesus

  • AshaiTides

    I actually was born and raised in Pierce County, and since I saw this, I was able to write them a nice letter!

  • baal

    Every time I learn more details or context of the “GoodNews Club”, my view of them gets worse. There is never a sliver of decency or care beyond using everyone else’s resources to push their version of Jesus as widely and deeply as possible.

  • Fallulah

    Face palm at how these people cannot understand that just because they aren’t pushing a specific CHURCH, they are still pushing a very specific religious MESSAGE. Oh and great poke at Rob Ford! God, I love that man.

    • Jim Jones


      The Club’s real mission is to convert children to fundamentalist Christianity and encourage them to proselytize to their “unchurched” peers, all the while promoting the natural but false impression among the children that its activities are endorsed by the school.

      • Jasper

        Woohoo! Random Bible Verses!

        I’ll just file these away in my mental spam folder.

      • Matt D

        I’d never suggest you get your ethics and morals from monsters, but that’s your perogative.

        • Crash Override

          I think he’s referring to the Marvel Universe Hydra, rather than to the mythological one…but ya never know…

        • Spuddie

          “Cut off one head, two more shall take its place!”

          It works for both the monster and the supervillan organization.

      • WallofSleep

        I recall when god first gave me over to a reprobate mind. I ended up in summer school. Talk about inconvenient.

      • Feminerd

        “On the night of their betrothal, the wife shall open to the man as the furrow to the plow and he shall work in her, in and again, ’til she bring him to his fall and rest him then upon the sweat of her breast.”
        -The Bible

        An equally valid and meaningful quote, wouldn’t you say, denoting that God loves sex and thinks that betrothal (not marriage) is the time to start having sex.

      • Artor

        “Yet if it stands but a little while, then out of your house shall come the hope of Elves and Men. This I say to you, lord, with the eyes of death: though we part here forever, and I shall not look on your white walls again, from you and from me a new star shall arise. Farewell!”
        -Hour to Turgon at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears

        “And Elwing chose to be judged among the Firstborn Children of Ilúvatar… and for her sake, Eärendil chose alike, though his heart was rather with the kindred of Men and the people of his father.”
        For we are but Atani and death is our Fate. Such is the gift of Iluvatar.

        “Hail Eärendil, of mariners most renowned, the looked for that cometh at unawares, the longed for that cometh beyond hope! Hail Eärendil, bearer of the light before the Sun and Moon! Splendour of the Children of Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning!”
        -Eönwë to Eärendil upon his arrival in Valinor

        Shre nazg golugranu kilmi-nudu Ombi kuzddurbagu gundum-ishi Nugu gurunkilu bard gurutu Ash Burz-Durbagu burzum-ishi Daghburz-ishi makha gulshu darulu
        Ash nazg durbatulûk
        ash nazg gimbatul
        ash nazg thrakatulûk
        agh burzum-ishi krimpatul

      • busterggi

        Hail Hydra!

      • LesterBallard

        Ezekiel 23:20; There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

      • JethroElfman

        Oh ye who go about saying unto each: “Hello sailor”:
        Dost thou know the magnitude of thy sin before the gods?
        Yea, verily, thou shalt be ground between two stones.
        Shall the angry gods cast thy body into the whirlpool?
        Surely, thy eye shall be put out with a sharp stick!
        Even unto the ends of the earth shalt thou wander and
        unto the land of the dead shalt thou be sent at last.
        Surely thou shalt repent of thy cunning.

    • busterggi

      Personally I want to know if Rob Ford was doing crack when he killed Jesse James.

  • Jim Jones

    For those who don’t know Pierce County:,_Tacoma,_Washington

    The money would be better spent on real social programs that work, unlike ‘Jesus’.

    • RowanVT

      Can’t tell if troll or ignorant………….

      • Artor


      • RowanVT

        Read more of your comments. Now certain your are both.

    • Castilliano

      I thought you were kidding until I saw you’d posted NT quotes. without actual support for same. Keep in mind, your holy book has as little influence on nonbelievers as other peoples’ holy books have on you.
      Do you accept quotes from other holy books as legitimate?
      Now you’re one step closer to understanding us.

      If you want to grow, here’s an excellent debate showing how Christianity falls short compared to secularism:
      Most of the data is toward the end, but it decisively shows Christianity works little better than a placebo when it comes to actual social reform, if at all. The correlations between Christianity and poor social structure are vast.

      Add that some non-Christian faiths (and non-believing countries) actually uphold Christian values better.
      (By “Christian Values” I mean universal human values that Christians try to own despite them existing in most cultures before Christianity or the OT.)

      But that’s all an aside to the real point:
      No portion of government is allowed to support (or refute) any religion.
      Christianity is a religion.
      Therefore, the money would best be spent elsewhere because it’s not allowed to be spent here.

      Or, you could (with evidence, not anecdotes) actually show us data that Jesus works…
      (Good luck with that)

      Cheers, JMK

      • FTP_LTR

        Please do. There’s plenty of space here.

      • Castilliano

        “Examples” sounds anecdotal.
        Anecdotes are not evidence.

        “Then Joe praised Jesus and blah, blah, blah,” is not good evidence. No amount of stories are, despite their persuasive appeal.

        Every religion in the history of the world has tons of those, even the dead religions we both call myth. Just because you know tons that aid your religion doesn’t help your point because I can turn to the Mormon or the Buddhist and get just as many supporting theirs.

        Oh, yeah, just remembering you implied that following Jesus is not following a religion. *sigh*
        If you follow the teachings of Jesus, you are following a religion, just like those who follow the teachings of other (pseudo)-historical figures like Buddha, Mohammed, or Joseph Smith.
        That’s how the word works. Don’t try to evade it, that’s disingenuous.

    • WallofSleep

      “How do you know JESUS doesn’t work?”

      I know that Jesus works. Jesus works real fucking hard, in fact.

      • Spuddie

        I cannot upvote this enough! You win all internets.

    • Feminerd

      JESUS is dead. Thus, he can’t work. I mean, unless we somehow went back in time and gathered the methane from his decomposing corpse to burn for fuel (like we do landfill gases), then I guess you could argue that Jesus was working. Sort of.

      • Peter Whitley

        Jesus has fallen and can’t get up.

        • Spuddie

          Luckily he had LifeAlert and an ambulance was able to come to his aid.

      • FTP_LTR

        That’d be the methane buildup.

      • Feminerd

        Mmhmm. Dead guys don’t get up after three days, y’know. Their brains have gone all grey, their organs have started decomposing, and they smell truly foul.

        You’re not really gullible enough to believe that, are you?

        • Feminerd


        • Peter Whitley

          Zombies are so chic these days.

    • Richard Wade

      Hi daddybigcat, I’ll indulge trying to explain this to you just once. If you ignore it, then you’re a troll, and everyone should ignore you until your ego is starved and you go away.

      Whether or not “JESUS” or a well-documented social program works is beside the point. The point that you seem to be missing is that this county council is guilty of theft.

      Taking what is not given is theft.

      Misappropriation of funds, using money entrusted to you for one purpose and then using it for another purpose of your own is theft.

      Using the money paid by ALL the taxpayers of a community to promote a particular religion that is not necessarily everyone’s religion is forcing them to pay for that promotion, and it is theft.

      To help you understand this, try imagining that your city takes tax money that you paid for the maintenance of the city, and without your permission, uses it to promote a religion that you do not practice and you think is false. Do you feel as if you’ve been ripped off? You should, because you have. It’s theft. If it is not okay for someone to do that to you, then it is not okay for you or anyone else to do it to someone else. The law must protect everyone, not just some, and not just the “majority.”

      This is why this kind of thing is prohibited by the First Amendment and years of Supreme Court clarification. Freedom of religion MUST include freedom from religion, because everyone must be free from having someone else’s religion or any religion forced on them. This is the only reason that you are free to practice your religion as you choose.

      Your thoughts? (More cherry-picked Bible verses are not your thoughts. Please don’t do that.)

      • Andy Anderson

        You didn’t actually respond to anything Mr. Wade wrote.

      • Spuddie

        Either you consider us all complete idiots or are one yourself. Just because someone is elected, it doesn’t mean they can use their position to do something inherently illegal.

        Majority rule does not mean you can run roughshod over the rights of everyone. Civil liberties are there to prevent people from voting away the freedoms of others, This is how constitutional republics prevent themselves from sliding into authoritarian systems. Its how we keep people like yourself from turning this country into a theocratic shithole. [Google "tyranny of the majority"]

        Richard Wade was being charitable to you. He was also crystal clear that “Jesus” is no excuse for deliberate and illegal misuse of public funds.

        The framers of the constitution had a overwhelming distrust of people who used government power in service of their religious faith. Your response is clear evidence you don’t know jack about, nor appreciate the democratic system they created.

        I know the framers of the constitution were no atheists- and had you made such comments at the time of the laws of which you speak you would have been imprisoned.

        Cue the Billy Madison Clip

        “what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it”

      • PhiloKGB

        Your personal religion must be on seriously tenuous intellectual ground if you’re longing for the days of criminalized blasphemy.

    • Feral Dog

      Ohhh yeah. Tacoma girl, here. Both major hospitals, St. Joseph’s and Tacoma General (by the way, always go to T.G. if something happens to you in Tacoma, or tell the ambulance driver to take you there if you can. St. Joe’s is FILTHY), were on lock-down on a weekly basis through the early-mid 1990′s because of the gang violence- and my stepdad once drove my sister and a bunch of her friends through the area, even the pothole-riddled streets, and pointed out every place he remembered finding a body (firefighters show up at crime scenes…) in some kind of misguided scare-em-straight tactic. It’s a lot better now, but when they say ‘high crime rate’ they’re not talking about petty vandalism.

  • John Brockman

    Also, they’re not pushing Christianity in general. They’re pushing (1) Evangelical (2) Protestant (3) Christianity. They don’t like Catholics or non-evangelicals.

  • doctorQ

    Reminds me of an adage I heard when learning to program: “To a Visual Basic programmer, cross-platform means Windows 98 AND Windows XP!”

    • ScottG

      I’ve always liked that line from the “Blues Brothers” (dates me):
      Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
      Claire: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country *and* western.

      • busterggi

        Actually there is a difference between country and western, the later has almost completely disappeared since the early ’60′s and the former has morphed into pseudo-hippie pop.

        • ScottG

          Oh, I’m not disputing that there’s a difference. The woman in the movie knew the difference (Jake and Elwood may have not.)
          The gag from the movie of course was that to the barmaid the full extent of “music” in her world was just those two types, and that to an outsider her view seen as very narrow.

      • JPS

        A few decades ago I suggested that there was 1: “country” music, 2: “western” music, and 3: “country-western” music, which was neither.

  • Rain

    “Nondenominational” does not mean “nonsectarian.”

    Yeah what’s with the “nondenominational” shtick. Anyway it’s a completely innocent equivocation since they are all smiling so big with the huge gigantic smiles. Wow.

    • WallofSleep

      My family belonged to a nondenominational church when I was a kid. Not once did I ever hear anyone at that church claim that what they were on about was not religious in nature.

  • DC

    Like they thought they were going to get away with this.

    Here come the lawsuits! Good job wasting tax-payer money on that.

    • Redorblack Nigelbottom

      They would have… my council member told us he didn’t even know about it. I’ve called them on funding in the past for YMCA funding for similar reasons. A previous council immediately after voting to make it harder for themselves to raise revenue with the explanation that “We can’t be trusted not to spend money if it is easy to just raise taxes”, gave millions in tax breaks to a construction company to make a project ‘pencil out’, their standard line when lining up for tax payer money and gave a huge chunk of taxpayer money in grant form to the YMCA to build a new facility. This was mere minutes after telling us what a nightmare balancing the budget was going to be… and they just gave piles of money away with no need other than the two groups have huge political pull.

  • JaneGalt

    I fought these bastards from coming to my daughter’s school with the help of the ACLU. They are actually preaching Domionism, which makes them a hate group as well as a religious one. Giving them free access to PUBLIC school kids is like turning a group of pedophiles loose in a school.

  • Sweetredtele

    And that’s how to turn a $7000 budget item into a $150,000 budget item.

  • Jaynee

    I live in Washington state and was completely appalled to learn this happened here. I just sent the Pierce County Council a message.

  • LesterBallard

    Lying motherfuckers.

  • Banky Benya

    Keep your worthless religion under your own roof or church!! And they’re all worthless!! I don’t care WHAT denomination!!

  • frustratedwithmorons

    It’s sad that even despite the amount of knowledge and information available there are those who confuse belief with fact. I know all too many people who think christianity (or their religion) is not a religion because it is true??? (I know,,, not my words). I am fighting a local science teacher and school board who believe it is alright to teach religion instead of science because they live in the “bible belt”. How can a professional who’s sole job is knowledge sharing confuse fact and belief?

    • Castilliano

      Where is your fight?
      Because it’s not just your fight.
      And if you provide links & media, Hemant might do a post for you, which in turn will get you some support.

      Cheers. :)

  • Stacy Emerson

    I am a constituent of the County Councilmember who objected to this amendment. I appreciate that he objected, and am more than disappointed in CM McCune for doing this, and for putting our County Government in such a predicament.

    I spent all day and evening yesterday researching this CEM organization. Here are a few or the more disturbing things I found:

    >> Interview of the woman who pretty much blew the whistle on the organization –

    >> Very telling video “ad” CEM uses –

    >> CEF is known to sue districts all across the country that challenge them:

    >> Deceptive statements in their BBB listing (see “Truthful Materials”) –

  • Brodestar

    CEF very much IS a religious organization pushing christian beliefs and values on young impressionable children. No public school system anywhere should be giving funds to a clearly religious group no matter what religion it is nondenominational or not. We have something called the separation of church and state in this country that is defined in our constitution and that separation can not be violated even if the intention was not malicious in nature.

  • frustratedwithmorons

    Castilliano, thanks for the support. I had thought I lived in the United States but was recently informed by the school board superintendent that I live in the Bible Belt,,, I need to be vague for a little while longer and then we will be looking for all the support we can get. I dont even know what the “Bible Belt” flag looks like????

    Again thanks and in a couple of weeks it should be public.

  • BdrLen

    >That’s the worst excuse for an illegal action since everything Rob Ford said last week.

    And his popularity is climbing. So proud to be Canadian. Maybe he’ll kill a hooker to guarantee his re-election.

  • A3Kr0n

    I wrote and asked the city council if it would be fair and inclusive to include another $7000 in the budget for a Muslim group to invite people to Islam.

    • Sunny Day

      Just make sure its Non Denominational Islam.

  • Gabriel Landry

    Religion is by definition exclusive. Anyone who is not a believer in that particular religious belief is excluded. If my fundamental beliefs are not the fundamental belief of the society, am I judged to be defective, inferior or somehow less than everyone else? The reason the founding fathers excluded religion and wrote the first amendment is to keep religion out of governing actions. We are free to have our personal, family and community beliefs, but we cannot institutionalize those beliefs in governmental actions. We expect a government of the people, by the people, for the people, not a government of the religion, by the religion, for the religion.

  • Rainkitten

    I do hope that this is going to be challenged by people that think the constitution should be used for something other than toilet paper.

  • Valerie Tarico

    Sigh. All right. More money to Americans United for separation of Church and State. And wow–I see that World Vision, the other sneakiest of sneaky we’re-not- really-evangelical-missionary-organizations-targeting-kids is actually advertising on your site!

  • Dr. Zoltar

    I am a Pierce County resident and both my wife and I have emailed the council against this. It’s a shame they think this is even remotely ok.

  • Robster

    I’m going to open a Pie Shop and not sell pies, hey if it works for them..

  • Pierce County worker

    Point of order here. It was the county council, not the city council.

  • Belaam

    I had written to the council and just got feedback that this budget amendment was removed!

    “Councilemember Jim McCune withdrew his original amendment to allocate the District 3 portion of Youth Violence Prevention funds to the Child Evangelism Fellowship organization and proposed Amendment No. 3 Proposal No. 2013-67s2 redirecting $2,500 to Changing Rein Equine Assisted Activities & Therapies and $4,500 to 4-H in Graham, WA. Amendment No. 3 passed unanimously by the Council.”

    So looks like the voices pointing out the problems with this were heard.

  • Stacy Emerson

    Thank you to those who submitted comments. YOU helped get the amendment withdrawn, however according to the sponsor, he withdrew it for another reason.

    Here is what he said while doing so:

    (at the 30:30 mark)

    Councilmember Jim McCune (R) – “This is my amendment, and at this time I am shifting–but reluctantly shifting the money just so the council doesn’t take any pressure–it was all my doing, and under the First amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, it’s okay. You all here benefit from that right–religious freedom – to make no law against establishment of religion–don’t forget the “no”–or the free exercise thereof, and under the federal constitution, the free exercise is alright. Now I realize we have a difference of opinion, and I respect your opinion, highly–all your opinions, but this has to be under constitutional law, equal access to all groups. Because principles are taught by secular people, atheist people, Buddhist people, and Christian people. And so we have equal access all the way around–and case law proves that over and over and over. I’m not a lawyer, but I get legal counsel, and I got some good lawyers, and I take their counsel. So, but I’m pulling this so I don’t want to have my fellow councilmembers being disrupted, and that’s the basic reason why I’m pulling it, and you may one day see it back, you may not, but under legal precedence, I’m going to do some case law work in the next year, and then we’ll see what happens. But I appreciate all your comments. I respect everything you say, but you probably need to look into the original intent of the constitution, and not the version that you see, ’cause if you go to the foundation of our country, and all written documents–congressional written papers, early you won’t see separation of church ans state in any document in this county whatsoever–none, they never used it, they were against it. So I forge(?) you to go ahead–go back in history, go back to congressional record, and look it up for yourself like I have. I don’t go outside congressional records, or Washington State records–I use–everything is documented, so anyways, I appreciate your comments and I am removing this reluctantly, and I hope the council will pass it.”

    • Jim Jones

      The ignorance of Councilmember Jim McCune (R) is astonishing. He doesn’t know the constitution or the history of the USA.

  • Stacy Emerson

    Here is the email Councilmember Jim McCune sent out to his constituents after the fact:

    (if any of the links in this comment don’t work, please refer to the pdf version here

    From the desk of Councilmember Jim McCune:

    Budgeting is perhaps the most important job of your elected representatives. Discerning where to direct your tax dollars to provide the services government is charged with providing is something I take very seriously.

    Most recently, you may have heard something about funding, administered by Community Connections, designated for programs that deter youth violence. The history of the funding is explained here ( Prior to my coming to the Council, the Council members realized that there were additional, excellent, qualifying programs in their districts that perhaps were not aware of the grant program or didn’t realize they qualified for the program. This led to a percentage of the grant funds being directed by the Council members to additional organizations.

    The goal of the program is to deter youth violence, a global issue that does not discriminate against its victims. Our youth are individuals; therefore, there is no “one size fits all” program that addresses youth violence. There are many roads ( that lead to youth engaging in violence and mentoring is one approach that fosters personal confidence and boosts one’s self-esteem, thereby, reducing the tendency toward violent behavior. When discerning which organizations would be worthy of receiving funds to aid in deterring youth violence, I felt that those whose focus was on building good and principled character traits would be deemed beneficial.

    Unfortunately, a great deal of confusion was created due to a negative outreach campaign by those who practice humanism ( and organizations such as Americans United ( (a tax-exempt organization that promotes an atheistic stance toward policies, adhering to the falsely promoted idea ( that the Constitution speaks to the separation of church and state). The 1st Amendment came in under the Blaine Amendment (, it could be said it was written to further distinguish or define between freedom “of” religion and freedom “from” religion.

    For the record, I never claimed that CEF wasn’t a religious foundation; I was specific that funds would not be used for curriculum that violated policy. I was merely exercising the constitutional right for organizations with different philosophical views to have equal access to funds.

    To this point, 81 emails were received on the subject. Only 2 were from the 3rd Council District. In a county of over 800,000 residents, 23 (28%) were from out of state, 15 (18.5%) from other counties, and 43 (53%), mostly from the county’s urban areas. I’d say this was blown a bit out of proportion. What was good enough for our Founding Fathers is good enough for me!

    Regardless, each organization must follow specific guidelines to qualify for reimbursement for their program. Neither the First Amendment of the US Constitution (specifically the “no establishment clause”) nor the Washington State Constitution prohibits the use of or appropriation of public funds to faith-based organizations.

    Public funds may not, however, be used or appropriated for inherently religious activities such as worship, religious instruction or proselytizing. Every organization that receives Youth Violence Prevention Funds is required to enter into a contract with the County through the Community Connections Department in which they will describe the specific activity or program to be funded by public dollars and they will have to agree therein that no public funds received under the contract will be used for the religious activities described above.

    Out of respect for the Council and staff time, I determined that this issue would be better addressed at a different time and chose to redirect the funds to different organizations, even though I had the support to maintain the grant.

    Now, back to other business: After finishing with some minor amendments, we did pass a respectable budget ( to address the needs of the county. We all know that there isn’t enough funding to satisfy all of the needs and wants. Next year, I would like to bring into the discussion the debt accrued by all four levels of government (for which you are responsible for paying) and how it affects your ability as a Pierce County resident to afford the taxes needed to run our local government where you live, work and play. You may find this link ( to the national debt quite interesting and informative.

    If a perceived public benefit puts the public in economic servitude, it cannot be considered a benefit to the public. Having said that, you can understand why I was not in favor of funding a study for the construction of a new council office campus. I wasn’t convinced it was needed or cost effective.

    That is something that can be discussed in future letters. Until next time, thank you for support to represent you in your local government!

    With warm regards,

    Jim McCune