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State Funds Athletic Group With Religious Ties

WOSU Archive
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office says it’s awarding a $300,000 grant to the group Athletes In Action.  The Xenia-based organization is an off-shoot of Campus Crusade for Christ.  The Ohio ACLU says attorney general Mike DeWine is walking a fine line. 

Athletes in Action mixes sports with an overtly Christian message.  The $300,000 grant comes from a $2.8 million settlement the state received from drug maker Glaxo Smith Klein.  Gary Daniels with the Ohio ACLU says the AG’s office is on thin ice constitutionally.  Daniels says Athletes in Action has a distinctly religious focus.

“Their entire mission is to bring athletes closer to Christ. But of course the problem here is the government giving them money to do so when the government is compelled to remain neutral in matters of religion,” Daniels says.

The attorney general’s office says the settlement money was designated for a broad range of charitable causes.  AG’s spokesman Dan Tierney says money will also be used to lower recidivism rates and reduce the heroin epidemic in the state.

“The athletes in action grant which helps youth and community development is just another way that we’re using to help engage citizens and keep our community safe,” Tierney says.

In a statement, Attorney General Mike DeWine says he’s pleased that the grant will help Athletes In Action continue to serve Ohio communities through athletic programming.