A Christian group that mentors children of Phoenix prisoners is the target of an effort challenging President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives as unconstitutional, the Arizona Republic reports. MentorKids USA could lose more than $225,000 in federal grants under a lawsuit claiming that the federal government violated rules separating church and state by funding a program that is nothing more than indoctrination disguised as social service. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin against Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
MentorKids says the lawsuit is without merit because it wrongly assumes the government can’t fund religious organizations. Without the government’s help, the group, which has mentored more than 500 children since 1997, would be forced to scale back its operations, lay off at least one staff member, and not reach out to some families that need help. “We are a little bit tired of being hounded by the far left,” said Gary McCaleb of the Alliance Defense Fund, which represents MentorKids. “They seem to be saying that the government has to exclude religious groups.”