ICC Note: The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently issued a letter of complaint to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department regarding a church’s involvement in a state-affiliated hunting safety class. Although the course was being held at the church, the church was criticized for offering religious literature and inviting attendees to their Sunday services. Following the group’s complaint that these actions were unconstitutional, the department’s executive director stated that no materials unrelated to the course were to be distributed anymore.
By Heather Clark
07/19/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – A prominent professing atheist group that seeks to separate God from government has succeeded in stopping a church from distributing gospel literature and an invitation to Sunday services to attendees of a state-affiliated hunter’s safety class held at the house of worship.
“These proselytizing handouts are supremely insulting to non-Christians and unbelievers,” the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department on June 28.
“The State of New Hampshire has no business holding workshops of vital importance to hunting safety that berate attendees as ‘sinners,’ etc,” it said. “Such a misuse of a state function for sectarian, proselytizing purposes is disgraceful.”
The organization states that it was contacted by an individual who attended the class, which was held at Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Laconia. The training was taught by one of the pastors, and included with the study packet and other hunter’s safety information was a document that provided the ABC’s of salvation, as well as another that invited attendees to Heritage’s Sunday services.
FFRF asserts that the church’s inclusion of the flyers with the class studies violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it creates the appearance of a government endorsement of religion.
“Allowing churches to distribute their religious literature through a class co-sponsored by New Hampshire Fish and Game constitutes government endorsement and advancement of religion,” it contended in its letter. “It also sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are non-adherents that ‘they are outsiders, not full members of the political community …’”