A circuit court judge in Florida has ruled in favor of two Christian organizations that have been targeted in a lawsuit filed by an atheist group around eight years ago. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was looking to stop the ministries in helping a government agency in the rehabilitation of former convicts.
The case was filed by the Council for Secular Humanism against the Florida Department of Corrections in 2007. The group explicitly stated that the agency must terminate its official arrangements with the Prisoners of Christ Ministry and the Lamb of God Ministries, Christian Today reported.
These two organizations carry out various programs to help prisoners that have been released return to normal lives. These include assisting them in acquiring the various government-issued IDs, medical services and even a post-secondary education. Ultimately, these programs are designed to rehabilitate the ex-convicts to help them find proper employment.
However, according to the Council for Secular Humanism, the Department of Corrections' contracts with the two ministries violate Florida's No Aid law, which basically states that public funds should not be used to transact with a religious denomination.
But, George Reynolds III, the Circuit Court of Leon County judge who presided over the case, noted that the agreements between the two parties do not go against the No Aid provision. He said that the contracts have nothing to do with religion and were only made for the rehabilitation of former inmates.
"Under the disputed facts of the case, based on eight years of litigation and a lengthy record, plaintiffs have not demonstrated that state funds are being unconstitutionally used in aid of a church, sect or religious denomination or...any sectarian institution," the judge said during the hearing, according to Christian Today.
Lori Windham, the legal representative of the two Christian ministries, noted that the judge made the right decision in siding with his clients.
"The court was right to reject a discriminatory attempt to punish successful prisoner ministries simply because they were run by religiously-inspired people," he said in a statement according to The Blaze. "Former prisoners need help, and it's wrong to stop people who are helping just because naysayers on the sidelines don't like religion."