Should churches should be eligible for county historic preservation grants? A lively debate before the Morris County council, known as freeholders, focused on the place of religion in civic life.
The Morris Daily Record:
“I don’t want to be funding anyone else’s church,” Long Valley resident Wayne Laraway angrily told the freeholders before they voted about 10 p.m. Wednesday to support a resolution that affirmed the county’s commitment to preservation and acquisition of historic properties and the eligibility of religious institutions for grants.
Some 75 people, including local clergy, municipal officials, historians and believers in a firm separation of church and state, crowded the freeholder meeting room for the debate. Though the issue of the freeholders allowing houses of worship to apply for county historic preservation grants had been brewing for nearly a year, it publicly came to a head on Jan. 14, when Freeholder William “Hank” Lyon proposed a resolution to end the eligibility of churches for the grants. He said the the practice appeared to violate the state Constitution.
On Monday, Lyon withdrew his opposition to the grant giving, saying its constitutionality is ambiguous and a subject better left to judges or for a constitutional amendment considered by voters.
But people for and against the preservation grants to churches came to Wednesday’s meeting.
Posted by Andrew Gerns