SJC to hear case regarding public funds for church renovations

By: Dalton Main

Updated:

BOSTON - Massachusetts’ highest court will weigh a decision on whether public money can be given to a church for renovations.

The Supreme Judicial Court is set to review a case against the Town of Acton, which opponents say has broken state law by providing more than $100,000 in preservation grants to a church.

According to the statement of the case, the SJC must answer the following question: “Do the Town of Acton’s two proposed grants totaling more than $100,000 to the Acton Congregational Church violate the Anti-Aid Amendment’s prohibition against the ‘use of public money . . . for the purpose of . . .maintaining or aiding any church . . .?’”

Court filings outline that the town approved the funds to “refurbish stained-glass windows with religious money imagery and to make other repairs that would improve the condition of the church for its congregants.”

A group sued the town after it granted funds to the Acton Congregational Church through the Community Preservation Act, saying the town violated the Anti-Aid Amendment.

In its appeal, the Town of Acton claims “[the SJC] has never interpreted the Anti-Aid Amendment to permit direct public funding of an active house of worship.”

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