The National Baptist Convention is coming back to Kansas City. All would’ve been smooth, but they asked the city for $65,000 of taxpayer money to support their convention. American Atheists filed a lawsuit, the city decided that one way or another the convention wasn’t getting that money and decided to not throw money away on that forgone result. Now the organizers who sought to break the law are sad:
The Rev. John Modest Miles, a Kansas City Baptist minister, has been losing sleep ever since a group of atheists filed a lawsuit in July.
He slept fine while breaking the law was being broken in his favor when only Jesus was watching. Now that they’ve been caught and the human justice system is watching, now he’s losing sleep.
Miles had been counting on a $65,000 grant from Kansas City tourism tax dollars for the National Baptist Convention in Kansas City, Sept. 5-9.
Oh, that’s taxpayer money to support a sectarian religion. That’s a no-go, and obviously so.
It’s one of Kansas City’s top five conventions for 2016, and the City Council approved the grant in April to Miles’ nonprofit social services organization, Modest Miles Ministry. The money was intended to shuttle conventioneers to and from their hotels and Bartle Hall.
Yeah, shuttling people to and from an event explicitly to promote Christianity is definitely government endorsement of religion. You can’t do that.
But in late July, American Atheists Inc. and two members who live in Kansas City filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing any such funding would violate Missouri’s Constitution, which prohibits public taxpayer aid for religious purposes.
In a lawsuit that, had Kansas City not backed down, would’ve been over before you could say, “Ask god for the money.”
Kansas City officials say no contract will be signed with Miles without assurances that the money will go for secular purposes. But it’s now so close to the time of the convention that any contract signing is virtually ruled out.
“All of us are in tears,” Miles said of himself and other local organizers working with the National Baptist Convention. “I’m up at night praying. That’s all I know to do.”
And god isn’t answering your prayers. Strange, that.
Miles said he did not know where a replacement source of funds might emerge. He’s scheduled to meet Friday with city officials to explore other options. City Manager Troy Schulte said this week that the only option is to raise the money from private sources, and the city will try to help Miles with that outreach.
“At this time, we will not be using public money,” Schulte said.
The lawsuit highlights important legal considerations about the separation of church and state but also sparks outrage among the National Baptist Convention’s leadership, who feel it is discriminatory. And it comes at a time when public funding for religious entities is at the heart of another Missouri case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2016-2017 session.
You don’t pay taxes, but you want to use taxpayer money to promote your church/religion? Yeah, I wish somebody would discriminate against me like that.
The National Baptists’ meeting is big business for Bartle Hall and Kansas City, with an estimated 20,000 delegates and family members, 8,200 hotel rooms booked and a $7.9 million estimated economic impact, according to VisitKC, the city’s convention and tourism agency.
*nod* So I don’t blame the city for wanting to give them the money, or for helping them raise it from private donors. However, if you’re going to be bringing in 20,000 people, here’s a crazy solution to recoup the $65,000: ask each of them for $3.25. Or would that cut into the donations and tithes you were planning on taking home after the taxpayers took care of the other expenses?
Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, said in a telephone interview with The Star this week that he was shocked by the lawsuit and felt it unfairly singled out his Christian organization.
“I would hope that those who are part of the Atheist movement would not take the position that the money used by the city to market the city and to bring economic development and enhancement, I would hope they would not believe that ought to apply to everybody but Christians,” Young said.
The money is not being used for “economic development and enhancement.” It’s being used to promote your religion, and some of your people will be spending their money here. That’s against the law, and you’re trying to spin it as a secular purpose (dishonestly, and pitifully).
He said it’s not proselytizing or promoting religion to hold the convention in Kansas City and argued it’s an economic and business benefit to the city just as any other convention.
It’s not proselytizing or promoting religion? The National Baptist Convention? Really? What are you guys gonna talk about? Plumbing? Then why not call it the National Plumbing Convention?
It’s very telling that Jesus is as silent in the face of such obvious lies as he is in response to Rev. Miles’ prayers.
“When you spend money to bring 20,000 people to your city, you’re not spending that money to promote the cause…”
I’m halfway tempted to attend this convention just to show all the examples of how this is a lie (I live in Kansas City).
He said this is essentially a business meeting of the denomination. Some portions of the convention are open to the public.
Oh, a business meeting, which any random member of the congregations can attend. That makes sense. Let’s just take a peek at the event’s schedule and see what kind of business there is.
Hrm, there’s the Home Mission Day Family Fun Fest on Monday. Bring your laptops with Excel, kids!
Oooh! There’s a late night service on Tuesday at 10pm. Doesn’t sound religious to me.
The Evangelism Board meets on Wednesday. Would the city transporting people to that be helping them promote religion? I wonder. If so, there’s always the Home Mission Board Rally at 7pm. Think of all the secular fun we could have there.
Then we could hit the evening worship/assembly on Thursday. Maybe they’ll teach us how to fix a leaking sink, you think?
You fucking liars. With all this practice one would think you’d be better at it. Hell, these people even lied to the city, which put the city in a really lousy situation:
The answer acknowledges the City Council authorized the contract but said that was based on the Rev. Miles’ organization’s purpose as a charitable social service agency for the underprivileged and needy, not a religious entity. City officials say they told Miles repeatedly that the money needed to be targeted for a secular purpose, but that assurance was never provided.
And the excuses, my god the excuses:
“Once you decide that you can’t do this because this is a religious group, you have just decided you’re going to discriminate against religion and all the religious people in Kansas City who pay taxes,” he said. “How asinine is that?”
If you don’t pay taxes and we don’t give you taxpayer money to support you, that’s discrimination? Hrm, ok…
Regarding the Baptist convention, Young said the group has very much enjoyed meeting in Kansas City in the past, most recently in 2010, 2003 and 1998. He said Miles was trying to bring them back in the near future, but that’s unlikely given the lawsuit and denial of the grant funding.
Yeah, take your ball and go to another city, because federal court jurisprudence surely won’t apply there, and American Atheists is just going to ignore it next year. Hey, if you believe that, you might also believe a Canaanite Jew rose from the dead who won’t fix world hunger, but wants you to give 10% of your income to some phony in an expensive suit.