A nonpartisan nonprofit that hails itself as “a religious liberty watchdog group” has cited a $350,000 federal budget appropriation to the Tacoma Rescue Mission among 10 earmarks nationwide that “raise constitutional issues about inappropriate public funding of religion.”
In a press release dated Thursday, Americans United for Separation of Church and State noted it has sent letters to Obama administration officials requesting they investigate the earmarks to ensure they’re constitutional.
“We ask that you carefully investigate these earmarks and that you impose any restrictions necessary to ensure that the earmarks satisfy all legal requirements,” the press release quotes the group’s Senior Litigation Counsel, Alex Luchenitser, as writing to administration officials.
David Curry, executive director of the rescue mission, largely dismissed the group’s concerns as misplaced while explaining to me in a phone call today why the funding is legal.
“Occassionally, someone will bring something like this up,” Curry said. “We’re a faith-based organization and have been for 98 years. We provide humanitarian assistance, but there’s no religious or faith requirement to receive any service we offer. To me it’s a non-issue.”
Originally requested by Democrat Congressman Norm Dicks, the 2010 budget appropriation approved by Congress will help the mission build “The Adams Square Family Center,” a facility with 36-units of housing to shelter homeless families and provide them with various services, according to Curry and Dicks’ website.