Morris County can continue awarding historic preservation grants to churches in Morristown and across the county, a state judge has ruled.
Sitting in Somerset County, Superior Court Judge Margaret Goodzeit last week dismissed a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Madison resident David Steketee, who charged that millions of grant dollars since 2002 have violated separations of church and state outlined by the state and federal Constitutions.
“Excluding historical churches from receipt of reimbursements available to all historical buildings would be tantamount to impermissibly withholding of general benefits to certain citizens on the basis of their religion…and would be inconsistent with the spirit of our state and federal Constitutions,” ruled state Superior Court Judge Margaret Goodzeit, sitting in Somerville.
The Morris freeholders welcomed the decision in a statement:
“In Morris County, as in all counties in New Jersey and across the nation, churches and other religious buildings are a vital part of the historic fabric of where we live, interwoven with the history of how our county developed.