CHARLESTON – Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking Mingo County to end monetary support to a private Christian school.

FFRF has received multiple complaints concerning Mingo County’s ongoing financial support of Ambassador Christian Academy.

Since 2014, the school has been renting a county building at the cost of $1 per year and the county has been paying the vast majority of the school’s utility bills.

The letter was sent by FFRF to Mingo County Commission President Diann Hannah on Jan. 5.

“It is unconstitutional for the county to support a private religious school, either by renting space to the school for less than fair market value or by paying the school’s utility bills,” the letter states. “We request that the county immediately rescind its lease agreement with Ambassador Christian Academy.”

The county is violating the constitutional separation of church and state. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment clearly prohibits the government from fiscally supporting religious schools.

FFRF insists that the school cannot continue to operate in county-owned facilities without paying fair market value.

“Any sale of the property must also be for its fair market value,” FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line said in a press release. “Once the government enters into the religion business, conferring endorsement and preference for one religion over others, it strikes a blow at religious liberty, forcing taxpayers of all faiths and of no religion to support a particular expression of worship.”

FFRF is requesting a written response with assurances that Mingo County will take immediate steps to terminate the unconstitutional lease arrangement with Ambassador Christian Academy.

“By entangling the local government with a religious institution, the county has blatantly violated an enshrined American principle,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It must terminate this agreement immediately.” 

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