I had thought this was going to be yet another quiet Sunday, where the most I might do is watch CBS Sunday Morning, make breakfast for my wife and myself, perhaps watch some auto racing or golf and enjoy the company of my step-grandson when he and his mom came over in the evening.  It was almost true, right up to when my inbox alerted me with a note from a friend at the Northern Ohio Freethought Society.  It referred to a recent piece from The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta, who had learned of some interesting activity going on in my home state.  That activity consisted of a grant by our Attorney General, Mike DeWine, in the amount of $300,000 to an organization known as Athletes in Action.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have any problem with our state supporting athletics, except that this particular outfit is publicly, unabashedly Christian.  Indeed, part of their promotional literature states:

Since 1966, Athletes in Action has been using sports as a platform to help people answer questions of faith and to point them to Jesus … Ultimately , our goal is to see peoples’ lives changed as they discover God’s purpose for their life.  We dream of a day when there are Christ-followers on every team, in sport, in every nation.  We believe this is possible when organizations and individuals – who want every athlete to know someone who truly follows Jesus – work together toward the common goal of furthering God’s kingdom.

I was pleased to note that the FFRF, the parent organization under which the Northern Ohio Freethought Society operates, had already sent DeWine a letter, noting to the Attorney General the illegality of his office’s actions, with a recommendation for “corrective action.”  That note was supported by at least one more from an NOFS member.  Having seen that, I figured it was time to throw in my $0.02 as well:

Mr. DeWine:

I just learned via an article on patheos.com that your office has given a grant worth $300,000 to an organization known as Athletes in Action, which is openly Christian in its structure and intentions.  As both a taxpayer and an atheist, I am disturbed by an action which is clearly contrary to the separation of church and state which is at the foundation both of the United States and the state of Ohio.  I have to ask, if you were approached by a similar organization founded and supported by Muslims, would you be as willing to open the State’s pocketbook for them?  Personally, I’d be seriously dubious, as you should be.  This country was founded on the idea that NO religion gets preferential treatment over another and indeed that the state should have no significant interaction with ANY religious organization, certainly not any monetary interaction.

I would heartily recommend that this action be retracted forthwith and that no future grants of this type are considered in the future.  You owe it to the non-Christians of the Buckeye State at the very least.


Loren C. Miller, Jr.

The above went both to the Attorney General’s website and by standard mail to his office.

Make no mistake about it: there are public officials out there who think they can take such actions and, if they are not overtly public, get away with them.  To those of you who are also Ohioans, I urge you: get in the fight.  Write DeWine and let him know that we won’t tolerate this brand of blatant favoritism.  DeWine doesn’t just work for Christians; he damned well better work for all of us.

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Comment by Michael Penn on August 27, 2015 at 5:24pm

This Mike is listening, Loren, and I think that is wonderful news! Somebody has to take them to task for this religious crap they want to spread. Getting DeWine on this and even making him pay it back might make the next clown think twice. Obviously Dan Barker and others are fully aware on this. I doubt that him or the ACLU will back down.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 27, 2015 at 11:24am

*** MORE NEWS ***

The FFRF isn't alone in calling Mike DeWine on his misuse of state funds.  The American Civil Liberties Union has made a similar demand on the Attorney General and insisting that the grant be rescinded forthwith.

Uh, Mike?  You listening, guy?

Comment by Loren Miller on August 24, 2015 at 10:20pm

Carl, this isn't the first time DeWine has used questionable judgment.  I'm hoping he's smart enough to recognize that FFRF isn't bluffing, but if he isn't, this incident could be a very serious blow to his career ... or so I hope!

Comment by The Flying Atheist on August 24, 2015 at 9:58pm

That's a great update, Loren!  It's amazing how far public officials and their advisers are willing to let these types of situations progress, even with the blatant illegality staring at them in the face.  If it's not caused by pompous christian privilege, then it's just simply ignorance.  In either case, these people should not hold the public positions they have if they are not going to abide by the law or they are unaware of such fundamental government principles.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 24, 2015 at 8:05pm


The FFRF has fired yet another salvo at the Ohio Attorney General's office regarding their $300,000 grant to Athletes in Action.  Having reviewed documents provided by the AGO (Attorney General's Office) regarding AIA (Athletes In Action), it has determined that the purposes and goals of AIA are primarily if not solely the proselytism of youth, PERIOD.  The closing paragraph of FFRF's response states:

At best, the AGO was willfully ignorant of AIA's intent to promote Christianity with these funds.  When $300,000 of state funds are being given to a religious organization, will ignorance is unacceptable.  The grant to AIA must be rescinded immediately.  Please respond with assurances that this matter has been resolved and that similar violations will not recur in the future.

I cannot attach the full letter on a blog, but I will happily make it available to anyone interested.

It would seem as though Mr. DeWine is half a harelip away from a lawsuit.  Question is: is that the direction he REALLY wants to go in?

Comment by kathy: ky on August 9, 2015 at 4:30pm
My bet is on the "or something" ;)
Comment by Loren Miller on August 9, 2015 at 9:53am

My feeling as well, Bertold, and the reason why I think DeWine needs the wake-up call.  The hell of it is, I don't want to have to do this, and if he bothered to think about it, neither should DeWine.  It costs the state time and money which could go to better places.  Yet he apparently either wants to be obtuse about the issue or thinks it can slide in under the radar, and both those choices are non-starters.

This is a case of trying to mix a Lake Erie cocktail and 40-weight - it don't work, and DeWine needs to acknowledge that.  Whether he does so voluntarily or not is the current question.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 9, 2015 at 12:21am

I agree, Loren's letter was clear and voiced his concern, not on a war against christians, but against the Constitution. I hope FFRF takes a firm stand on those grounds. 

Comment by kathy: ky on August 8, 2015 at 11:29pm
Excellent as always Loren. If I had your writing skills l would be given the government hell all the time.
No pun intended.
Comment by Loren Miller on August 8, 2015 at 6:31pm

More News: I just emailed Annie Laurie Gaylor, letting her know about the response from DeWine's office and suggesting immediate legal action.  It's possible THAT might awaken them from their torpor, though I make no large wagers on it.

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