A nationwide Christian college campus ministry has rejected government COVID-19 relief out of fear that it will receive funds with "strings attached."
What are the details?
In a Wednesday interview with The College Fix, Corey Miller — president of Ratio Christi — said that the nonprofit organization needs the money, but not to the extent of potentially having to sacrifice principles down the road.
Ratio Christi, an apologetics-evangelism ministry, is located on at least 125 college campuses across the United States. The organization was approved to receive $130,000 to $180,000 in aid through the payroll protection plan under the CARES Act. You can read more about the CARES Act here.
"We need the money, as a non-profit, we want the money, we realize other less virtuous organizations are probably going to receive the money and utilize it for what we might see as non-virtuous ends, and we can do a lot of good with it," Miller said. "[But] we don't want to receive government funds with strings attached."
Miller added, "While there is nothing obviously apparent that there are strings attached to this, it's always a possibility. For us to continue, if we lose the ability to doctrinally discriminate, we're done."
Miller said that the board held an extensive discussion over the notion of accepting the funds and ultimately decided it wasn't worth it.
"We feel like our prosperity rights have been curtailed in transacting business, in the way our non-profit raises funds," he said. "We cannot get out there and meet with donors, which is vital when raising large amounts of money for a national non-profit organization."
Miller said that he and the rest of the organization's principals looked to the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which states:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
"We argued that maybe this could fall somewhere along the lines of the Fifth Amendment on eminent domain — the government confiscates property and then compensates the owner whose property it took at what they consider to be a just and fair amount," Miller reasoned. "We don't have property — our economic value is in connecting personally with donors."
Miller pointed out that if the U.S. government were to ultimately disagree with the group's doctrinal statement, it could result in running up against a potential religious liberty issue.
"Ultimately, the board chose not to subject itself to possible compromise in losing its identity and religious liberties in the future," Miller said.
"That money is not free," he added. "It has to be paid by someone, somewhere, sometime. The national debt is apparently already unsustainable. When we add to it about another $5 trillion, we jeopardize not only the stability of our organization, but the nation. We did not want to contribute to that consequence."
Miller concluded by insisting that the decision to reject the funds was based on the group's strong ethics.
"Our whole organization exists to defend and promote the truth of the Christian faith, and either we trust the Christian God for our livelihood, or we do not," he said.