Minnesota ‘Faith-Based’ Funding Questioned

A group that seeks to “train individuals…to be disciples of Christ” has come under fire for receiving a $10 million government contract from the Minnesota legislature to perform drug addiction rehabilitation services.

Teen Challenge, a fundamentalist Christian organization, is supposed to use the funds solely for its treatment program, but critics say the group has had problems separating the treatment from its Christian orientation and beliefs. Teen Challenge hires only Christians that adhere to its fundamentalist-oriented statement of faith and code of ethics.

“Whether a person is preparing a meal, writing a computer program or generating a financial statement for the organization,” Teen Challenge states, that person must “be an effective witness for Christ.”

Despite these concerns, the state has singled out Teen Challenge for an increase in funding.

“That the legislature is setting special rates for a pervasively sectarian organization is enough to make that funding unconstitutional,” Alex Luchenitser, AU’s senior litigation counsel, told the Minnesota Independent. “You have clear favoritism and endorsement of a religious program.”