Thursday, May 24, 2012

As a Christian I object to the "Faith West" project in West Lafayette

Hello my dear reader.

As some of you know the city of West Lafayette is considering a proposal by Faith Church to get a 30-year low interest rate bond to help fund the "Faith West" project. According to Faith Church for more than 20 years, Faith has sponsored an on-campus student group named Purdue Bible Fellowship (PBF). Purdue University recognizes PBF as an official student organization. The purpose of PBF is to provide faith-based fellowship and resources to the students, faculty, and staff of Purdue. For two years Faith has been working to locate the best possible home for PBF. After extensive discussions, it was determined that the proposed 6.4 acre site on Northwestern Avenue was the ideal location. We believe this project can meet the unique needs of the Purdue family and advance the cause of Jesus Christ through PBF and our biblical counseling ministry.

As a Christian and local resident I object this proposal. I am concerned that the city of West Lafayette is being used as a conduit to lead to the construction of an installation that will support the Purdue Bible Fellowship and other religious activities in the Purdue area. Before you think that I am against churches, campus ministries, or other religious organizations let me explain.

Many of you know me personally and know the following about me: I love campus ministry!
As a campus ministry intern I am proud and happy of the work I do every day. I have been blessed with a great opportunity to not only continue doing what I believe will be part of my future but that also allows me to work for the community.

If Faith Church wants to use their own funds (they already raised 3 millions dollars from their own donations) to build an installation to support their campus ministry and religious activities I cannot object. But I must object to Faith Church using the city as a conduit to get the up to 7 million dollars (covered by the bonds) for this. However, if a religious institution like Faith Church wants to use the city to get bonds to build something like a senior citizens home (similar to how Westminster Village was built with the support of the Presbyterian Church but now is fully private) I would not object; something like this would be good for the entire community and it would not be of a religious nature.

Also, I would like to ask those in the community that are calling those of us who object to this project as "anti-religious" or "wanting to persecute Christians" to consider all the facts. Part of these facts is that there are Christians and religious people like myself who object to this proposal along with those who do not consider themselves as religious. I know many of them personally and they are objecting for similar reasons to mine and because they share my concern for what is best for the Purdue and West Lafayette community. 

I hope that the city of West Lafayette will do the right thing and reject this proposal. Have a great weekend my dear reader!




Yesterday the public hearing of the West Lafayette Economic Development Commission regarding this issue had a full house. Some spoke in favor of this and others like me spoke against it. The vote was 3-1 to pass the resolution on with a favorable recommendation.

The second hearing and final vote will be during the West Lafayette City Council meeting on June 4th.

**Second Update**

I would like to thank Anna, Mike, and many others who worked so hard in our efforts to oppose the bond proposal for 'Faith West'. I truly believe (regardless of the final vote) that we made a strong case for why the city council should have rejected this bond proposal. I would also like to note that considering how some people were talking about us we still conducted ourselves with dignity and may I say gravitas, while we spoke at the different public hearings, when we talked to the press, when we had meetings with members of the city council, and in our dealings with the public.

However, we should remember that the work continues; this issue is closed but there will be other issues to deal with because in the end all of us live in this community and we must continue to work for the benefit of community. 



  1. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the following to the city:
    Dear President Hunt and City Council Members:
    I am writing on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to object to 
    Ordinance No. 11‐12, which would issue Economic Development Revenue Bonds to the 
    Faith West Project of Faith Ministries. FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with over 
    18,000 members across the country, including over 250 members in Indiana. Our purpose 
    is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and 
    educate on nontheism

    1. I have been following the Faith West project and have a couple observations. People's perception that the city of West Lafayette is funding the construction of a church not accurate.

      1. I recall that consideration for issuing the municipal bonds was contingent on drawing a line between faith-based and non faith-based areas of the development. This in accordance with the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. The bonds would be used to secure low interest loans to fund development of the non faith-based facilities while the faith-based facilities and services are 100% funded by Faith Church.

      2. Indiana Code was not violated. Faith is a 501(c)3 and therefore eligible to pursue municipal bonds. No exceptions or special preference was needed. Faith was not coerced or forced to develop Faith West against their will.

      3. Use of faith-based facilities and services is 100% voluntary (and I believe free of charge), including counseling. Again, 100% funded by the church not the low interest loan made possible by the municipal bond.

      4. Tax payer money is not being used for anything. The bonds are issued to secure low interest loans. In this case the bank assumes ownership of the debt almost instantaneously after the bonds are issued. The municipality and its tax payers have zero financial stake or risk.

  2. Tax payer's money shouldn't be used to build mosques, if you agree with that statement you understand why tax payer's money shouldn't be used to build churches.

  3. As an aside, Mark 12:17 as an endorsement of the separation of church and state, "give onto Caesar" what do you think?

  4. Mario said,
    "If Faith Church wants to use their own funds (they already raised 3 millions dollars from their own donations) to build an installation to support their campus ministry and religious activities I cannot object."

    Good news! The campus ministry facilities and services will be 100% funded by the church.

    The $7 mil loan (made possible by the bonds) is not being used for PBF or any other faith-based facilities or services on the Faith West site.

    Also, where did you get the $3 mil of church donations data from?


  5. Thank you INTERCUT for your comments.

    Since this the city voted to grant the bond proposal to Faith Church I didn't think anybody would still be trying to talk about the merits of it. Here are a a few comments of my own to your points:

    1) You asked did I get the $3 mil of church donations data from? The data at that time came from the 'Faith West' section, part of the 'giving' area from the Faith Church's website. They had claimed that they have met their target of 3 million dollars:
    "Project Update: We reached our commitment goal of 3 million dollars! Thank you for your support of this project. Additional commitments and gifts are always appreciated, and will be used in support of the project."

    2) Many of your arguments (and the arguments made in the bond proposal) point to the "drawing a line between faith-based and non faith-based areas of the development." For those of us in ministry we understand that this is problematic. Why? Because what may look good on paper may not work well in practice. This is not to suggest that Faith West will willingly want to violate this "separation". It is just that when you get involved in the day-to-day comings and goings on ministry it is really hard to keep things separate.
    3) And that brings us to this claim: "The $7 mil loan (made possible by the bonds) is not being used for PBF or any other faith-based facilities or services on the Faith West site."
    Yes and no. It was not PBF who applied to this bond proposal, it was Faith Church. Faith Church wants Faith West "for daily use throughout the week with the opportunity for worship services of various types ranging from weekly Bible study to special events and Sunday worship."

    The park, the day-care, etc are indeed a part of the facility but they are NOT the 'focus' or the mission of this facility. The mission is ministry and part of that ministry will be done by PBF:
    Bible Study: In Acts 2:42-46, the early church was “continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching ... day by day continuing with one mind.” PBF will offer Bible studies for people who wish to find God’s answers to the challenges of contemporary life.
    Prayer and Worship: Acts 2:42 also states that Christians were involved in the daily “ breaking of bread and ... prayer.” The new PBF facility will be a center for students and staff to pray and worship together.
    Fellowship: Acts 2 stresses the importance of “fellowship” when we read that Christians were “taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” Purdue Bible Fellowship provides ways for students and staff to grow through friendship and mutual encouragement.
    Counseling and Mentoring: Acts 2 speaks of people who positively related to one another so that together they were “praising God and having favor with all the people.” Our goal is to encourage positive interaction of counselors and mentors with students and staffers who desire a growing relationship with God.

    So again, I respect Faith Church wanting to build Faith West for their ministry and their campus ministry. My objection again, was that the city acted as an agent/conduit here. True, the city itself will not be spending a dime (I never claimed that it would). But the city with their approval made it possible for Faith Church to receive these bonds when it was clear that Faith Church already had the borrowing power (confirmed by Pastor Viers' himself) and the money to build Faith West WITHOUT the bond proposal.

    But my dear IC, the bond proposal has been approved and that's that. I still thought it was important for those of us in the community who had legitimate objections to the bond proposal to talk about them and bring them up, just like the those who favored it also spoke.