An Alaskan city council has reneged on a plan to give a historic local church funding to repair the outside of the building after the nation’s leading secularist group voiced a complaint. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has claimed victory after the city assembly of Sitka voted 4 to 3 against a motion to give St. Michael’s Cathedral $5,000 from the municipality’s visitor’s enhancement fund to repair exterior damages to the church building.

“It’s a fundamental American principle that citizens may not be taxed to support a church,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement after the vote. “We’re pleased that the majority of Sitka City Assembly members nixed this very bad idea.” Local radio station KCAW reports that the idea to donate $5,000 to the church, which is a key focal point in the town and is suffering from structural problems and a leaking roof, was proposed to the city assembly on Nov. 7 and spurred much debate surrounding the issue of separation of church and state. READ MORE