State of Oregon Attempts to Force Christian Ministry to Remove Christian Beliefs in Order to Receive Funding

The state government of Oregon enacted a new restriction on a Christian youth ministry group, withholding crucial funding on the condition that the group specifically hire non-Christians or people who otherwise don’t agree with the group’s beliefs.

As reported by Fox News, the group, 71Five Ministries, is struggling with a large budget deficit following the Oregon Department of Education’s decision to revoke its funding due to its Christian beliefs. The ministry filed a lawsuit against the state in March, with the support of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), declaring the state’s decision to be a violation of their First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Oral arguments in the case ended last week, and both sides are now waiting for the judge’s decision.

“It felt very much like a punch in the gut,” said Bud Amundsen, executive director of 71Five Ministries. “We were actually kind of one of their favorite programs.”

71Five services at-risk youth, including prisoners and teenage parents. The ministry had previously been granted state funds for the last six years before Oregon suddenly announced that it would be halting all further funding due to the group’s “statement of faith” expectations of its staff. The ministry requires that its board members, employees, and volunteers alike all be “authentic followers of Christ.”

The ADF lawsuit argued that 71Five is within its rights to have such restrictions due to its status as a religious organization, citing Supreme Court precedent which states that the government cannot attempt to influence a religious group’s “selection of those who will personify its beliefs.”

“When we were awarded the funding, we were happy to continue on with the partnership,” Amundsen explained. “And then to have it pulled and to have it pulled for that reason, I mean … [I was] like, how in the world could that happen?”

Amundsen also addressed the financial difficulties that the ministry is continuing to face in the meantime, saying that his “hope and goal is to not reduce staff, which will reduce access for young people.”

I’ve had a variety of emotions related to that. And probably the best thing I could say is, now it feels like we’re very unappreciated, that our hard work has been basically tossed into the trash can simply because they disagree with our faith perspective,” Amundsen added.

Get the news corporate media won't tell you.

Get caught up on today's must read stores!

By submitting your information, you agree to receive exclusive AG+ content, including special promotions, and agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms. By providing your phone number and checking the box to opt in, you are consenting to receive recurring SMS/MMS messages, including automated texts, to that number from my short code. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help, STOP to end. SMS opt-in will not be sold, rented, or shared.

About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: Getty Images