An outrageous proposal by the city of South Bend, Ind., to buy a commercial property and donate it to a Catholic school violates the U.S. and state constitutions, says a complaint to the city from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
In a June 14 letter to Common Council President Derek Dieter, FFRF objected on behalf of its members in South Bend to a plan put forth by Mayor Stephen Luecke. The proposal calls for the city to spend $1.2 million to buy and demolish a Family Dollar Store and then turn the property over to St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, which would use the land for new athletic facilities, including a football stadium.
On a 5-3 vote on June 13, the council refused to kill the plan, so they will take it up again on Monday, June 27.
In FFRF's letter, Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott noted that the city “cannot legally subsidize the creation of a religious school campus.”
St. Joseph's Principal Susan Richter recently sent an email to parents and alumni of the school, asking them to lobby the council. Her message read in part, “Part of this current budget proposal includes $1.2 million to acquire the Family Dollar Store along LaSalle Street and gifting it to Saint Joseph's High School. . . . We have been working with the Mayor's office for several months on this aspect of our new school project.”
FFRF filed an open records request for correspondence related to the proposed property acquisition and transfer. This request has not yet been fulfilled.
For more on the plan, see FFRF’s original news release.
Please contact Mayor Luecke and the Common Council and let them know that South Bend, recently named 2011’s “All-America City,” should respect America’s long tradition of separation of church and state. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize Catholic institutions. In this economy, how can the mayor even contemplate such a giveaway?
South Bend residents may also wish to contact their representative on the city council. If you live near South Bend, please consider speaking at the meeting. Consider passing this alert on to any friends or acquaintances friendly to church/state separation in South Bend!
Mayor Stephen J. Luecke
Office of the Mayor
227 West Jefferson Blvd., Suite 1400 N
South Bend, IN 46601
South Bend Common Council
227 West Jefferson Blvd., Suite 400 S
South Bend, IN 46601