Atheists Dismiss Lawsuit After City Rescinds $65,000 Grant to Baptists

Cranford, NJ—American Atheists announced today that is has dismissed its lawsuit against the City of Kansas City (Missouri) over a $65,000 grant that the city’s Neighborhoods Tourist Development Fund had awarded in April to Modest Miles Ministries for the 2016 National Baptist Convention in September. American Atheists sued based on Article 1, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution, which prohibits taxpayer money from being used for religious purposes.

Modest Miles

Rev. Modest Miles runs a local church and sought the $65,000 on behalf of the National Baptist Convention.

American Atheists and the two local Kansas City plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against the city in return for the city passing a new ordinance that repealed the April 15, 2016, ordinance that authorized the $65,000 grant. The City Council passed the repealing ordinance (No. 160721) on September 22, 2016. No attorney’s fees or damages were awarded to the plaintiffs.

“We are pleased that the city agreed to repeal the unconstitutional ordinance granting the National Baptist Convention $65,000,” said American Atheists’ National Legal Director Amanda Knief. “However, it shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit, months of negotiations, and tens of thousands dollars in legal fees on behalf of the local plaintiffs for the city to follow Missouri’s constitution.”

American Atheists filed the lawsuit in July after first warning the city that the grant was unconstitutional before it was voted for on April 14 and then trying to prevent the city from entering into a contract with Modest Miles Ministries. When the city would not cooperate, American Atheists contracted with a law firm on behalf of two local plaintiffs to sue the city to prevent the grant from being dispensed. After the lawsuit became public in July, the city never completed the contract for the $65,000 grant.

“American Atheists thanks Karen Donnelly and her team at Copilevitz and Canter law firm for their amazing work,” Knief said.

For More Information Contact:
Nick Fish, National Program Director, 908-276-7300 x8, [email protected]
Amanda Knief, National Legal and Public Policy Director, 908-276-7300 x9, [email protected]  


  • MiltonBC

    Way to go!

  • Kenneth Henderson

    I love it when sense and reason prevail! Thank you for upholding the constitution and quashing intolerance once again.

  • Mitch_Haelan

    Well done.

  • Richard Bailey

    Fantastic great job! I am wondering, however, why you settled without getting some reimbursement for our legal fees.

    • kftgr

      Better public image?

    • Nick Fish

      We responded privately to Richard via email, but in case anyone else had a similar question, we wanted to let post our reply here as well.

      The American Atheists Legal Center’s policy is to not divulge legal strategy or discuss settlement negotiations. However, we can say that we worked very hard to get the best settlement we could. We take the use of donor dollars seriously, which is why we are very selective when we file lawsuits at all. We appreciate all the interest and support.

  • Woo! No More Bad Town, Kansas City!

  • Martin Heinsdorf

    It’s a small amount, compared to all the tax-free property the religious organizations get away with, but it’s a victory, nonetheless. What counts is the principle of the separation of church and state.

  • Robert miller

    thank you for letting reason prevail. Maybe they will invest that money in their science ,or another educational program but probably wishful thinking.

  • Robert miller

    Madelyn would be smiling if alive.

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