A popular college campus ministry, Ratio Christi, has turned away federal financial assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic over fears the money will come with “strings attached.”
Corey Miller, president of the apologetics ministry, told The College Fix the nonprofit he leads certainly needs the cash, but is concerned taking the government-sanctioned monies could compromise the group’s integrity down the road.
“We need the money, as a non-profit, we want the money, we realize other less virtuous organizations are probably going to receive the money and utilize it for what we might see as non-virtuous ends, and we can do a lot of good with it,” he told the site. “[B]ut we don’t want to receive government funds with strings attached.”
Miller continued, “While there is nothing obviously apparent that there are strings attached to this, it’s always a possibility. For us to continue, if we lose the ability to doctrinally discriminate, we’re done.”
While the faith-based organization’s leaders did entertain the idea of taking the money, part of the federal government’s $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, which included a $350 billion program within the Small Business Administration, Miller said they looked at the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states, in part, that no citizen shall have private property taken from them without fair compensation.
“We argued that maybe this could fall somewhere along the lines of the 5th Amendment on eminent domain — the government confiscates property and then compensates the owner whose property it took at what they consider to be a just and fair amount,” the Ratio Christi leader explained. “We don’t have property, our economic value is in connecting personally with donors.”
Miller went on to say he is concerned that, if the government disagreed with Ratio Christi’s doctrinal statement, they could potentially run into a religious liberty issue.
“That money is not free,” he added. “It has to be paid by someone, somewhere, sometime. The national debt is apparently already unsustainable. When we add to it about another $5 trillion, we jeopardize not only the stability of our organization, but the nation. We did not want to contribute to that consequence.”
Is he right?
In early April, right after Congress passed its stimulus deal, Faithwire spoke with the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, who said he is wary about taking the assistance.
Chuck Bentley said that, although his 44-year-old organization qualifies for the SBA program, he, like the leaders of Ratio Christi, decided to forgo the government money.
“We didn’t want to borrow money; we didn’t want to have a grant that came from taxpayers,” he said, noting his own concerns over religious liberty violations. “So we just declined to do it.”