Should Historic Churches Get Public Preservation Funds? Oct 29, 2019 14:28:15 GMT -5
Post by Peter Primavera on Oct 29, 2019 14:28:15 GMT -5
GSL Dialogs welcomes our first "Guest Questioner," Peter Primavera, President of the National Landmarks Alliance, National Board of Directors Member Preservation Action, and Managing Partner of Peter Primavera Partners, LLC, who asks...
For this post the word "churches" is a generic term which refers to any property own by a religious organization, such as cemeteries, mosques, temples, synagogues. This also assumes the religious organization is a recognized non-profit as first described in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The issue for all of us promoting historic preservation is whether public moneys should be used to restore or rehabilitate a religious property
The Freedom From Religion Foundation brought suit against the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation’s favor, based largely on a clause in the New Jersey State Constitution (emphasis added):
No person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor under any pretense whatever be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his faith and judgment; nor shall any person be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right or has deliberately and voluntarily engaged to perform.
The Freeholders appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but they declined to hear the case. Therefore, the NJ Supreme Court decision stands.
So the issues up for debated is:
- Was the NJ and US Supreme Court decision, right?
- Should there be a Constitutional exception for historic churches?
- What can be done to fill this funding void for these undeniably significant sites?
The need to preserve these historic religious properties is undeniable, but what to do.