RELIGION
01/04/2012 02:45 pm ET

ACLU Demands Harrison County, West Virginia, Stop Funding 'Jesus Fest'

Officials in Harrison County, West Virginia, are feeling the heat from the American Civil Liberties Union over government funding of a local event known as "Jesus Fest."

The ACLU sent a letter, which was obtained by The Blaze, to the county demanding that it stop funding the annual event.

According to the letter, the ACLU maintains that the government funds are being used in defiance of the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause.

The clause calls for "government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," according to the letter. "In order for a government action to comply with the Establishment Clause, the action must have a secular purpose ..."

Jesus Fest is described on the event's website as, "a family oriented festival with a focus on creating unity in the Body of Christ, which is accomplished through an interdenominational approach utilizing ecumenical leadership and the involvement of local area churches."

One of the stated goals of Jesus fest is to "reach into our families by providing an environment where Christians can unite in fun, food and fellowship, listen to Christian music, hear the exciting news of our Lord and enjoy themselves in the love of Jesus."

Jesus Fest event organizer B.K. Vanhorn told the Charleston Daily Mail that the event is much like other festivals for which the county provides funding.

"The bottom line is you don't have to be Italian to enjoy the Italian Heritage Festival and you don't have to be black to enjoy the Black Heritage Festival," Vanhorn said. "And you don't have to be a Christian to come to Jesus Fest."

County Commissioner Ron Watson told WBOY that the money for Jesus Fest is not taxpayer dollars but that it comes from lottery proceeds.

"It comes from what I call devil's money which is gambling money from video lottery and table games that the county has received," Watson told the station.

In its letter to the commission, the ACLU says it expects the county to reach a decision on future Jesus Fest funding by Jan. 6.

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