August 27, 2009
Please contact Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to object to his recent decision to sign an infrastructure improvement bill" which allocates $40 million or more to religious organizations. The bill allots $31 billion to statewide infrastructure improvement projects but also uses taxpayer dollars to fund at least 97 religious groups in Illinois.
Despite severe budget deficits in social service programs throughout the country, Illinois' political leadership has decided to squander taxpayer dollars to promote the advancement and financial security of religious organizations. This irresponsible and unabashed decision crosses the constitutionally-defined boundary between church and state. Among the most offensive grants are $50,000 for a housing project by the Lawndale Christian Development Project, $100,000 each for renovations at three Catholic schools, $250,000 for renovations at Friendship House of Christian Service, $700,000 for capital improvements at St. Malachy School (though the bill fails to specify which St. Malachy school), $150,000 for a Jewish Community of Chicago religious summer camp in Wisconsin Dells and $75,000 for library improvements at the Chicago Bible Institute. The bill language barely restricts the use of the funds, which leaves the churches and other religious organizations power to use the money as they choose.
Possible talking points include: the process of selecting which religious groups receive money seems altogether arbitrary and favors certain religions, particularly Christianity and more particularly Catholicism; the unclear and unspecific bill language allows these groups to use the funds for almost any purpose, including promoting their religion; violates the Constitutional mandate that government "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"; makes no sense in normal financial times but is especially fiscally irresponsible during a recession; this money could have and should have instead been used to revitalize the crippled public (and secular) social services sector; and this bill unfairly uses taxpayer dollars to promote religion, offending and excluding growing numbers of nonbelieving Americans.
Read Chicago Tribune Blog coverage by Eric Zorn
ContactGov. Pat Quinn
Office of the Governor
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-2121
Local Media ContactsChicago Tribune
Action Alert by Bonnie Gutsch"