The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked that NASA withdraw a $1 million grant given to a religious organization.
According to a press release by FFRF:
Since the principle goal of the organization is theological, the grant money is being used for a religious purpose.
In May 2015, NASA’s astrobiology program awarded $1.108 million to the Center for Theological Inquiry for “an interdisciplinary inquiry on the societal implications of astrobiology, the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.” Center Director William Storrar stated at the time, “The aim of this inquiry is to foster theology’s dialogue with astrobiology on its societal implications, enriched by the contribution of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.”
“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits any ‘sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the sovereign in religious activity’,” FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel writes to NASA officials. “Specifically, the government may not fund religious projects, as various courts have ruled over the years.”
The grant is a clear, unquestionable violation of the establishment clause. While NASA may feel they are doing the right thing and encouraging space exploration and scientific inquisitiveness, it should not be done for the purpose of further religious dogma or beliefs.
FFRF says they truly admire NASA and hope they do the right thing in this case.
“FFRF and our membership truly admire the work NASA has done over the years,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “But this grant crosses the constitutional line and misuses precious tax dollars reserved for true scientific endeavor. NASA needs to immediately retract the grant.”