"Shelby County Courthouse" by Chris Light / CC BY-SA 4.0

TN County Gives $15,000 in Taxpayer Funding to Bible Museum, Despite Warning

Oct 1, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

Taxpayers in Collierville, Tennessee are funding a Bible museum in their community, raising all sorts of questions about whether this violates the Constitution.

Each member of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners (which includes Collierville) gets $200,000 a year to “give back to the community,” and they can use it for cultural programs, community development activities, infrastructure improvements, etc. During a meeting on September 23Commissioner David Bradford announced that he wanted to give $10,000 from his funds for the Bible Museum on the Square. Commissioner Mick Wright said he would chip in $5,000 more. The entire commission unanimously voted in favor of that use of money.

“The museum is a good fixture for the town square,” Bradford said, adding it’s unique from other historical exhibits in the area. “It has time reference to what was going on in history with a focus on the Bible.”

According to the application from the non-profit museum’s director, Craig Gyergyo, $25,000 was requested to help out with operating costs, especially with the announcement of “a new attraction in the days to come.” That represented 10% of the museum’s yearly budget. (In 2018, they lost more than $50,000.)

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