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San Francisco Board Told: Stop Funding Catholic Charities

For Immediate Release

"Let Him Eat Peanut Butter"

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has advised the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to stop funding Catholic Charities altogether, following the summer revelation that Catholic Charity CEO Frank Hudson has spent $73,000 of charity funds recently on such perks as meals and wrinkle treatment. Hudson's salary tops $170,000 a year, not including benefits.

"We believe that the scandal involving Catholic Charities--which receives more than half of its budget from city taxpayers--requires not just an investigation of its finances, but a re-evaluation of the city's policy to fund religious organizations," Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote Board Chair Tom Amminao on July 3.

"As is so often the case, when it comes to charity, religion gets the credit, and taxpayers get the bill.

"Public policy requires that where public money goes, public accountability must follow. Clearly Catholic Charities has abused the public trust in so egregious a manner that the city of San Francisco has no choice but to sever its relationship with this group as a provider of public services," Gaylor added.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently revealed that Hudson charged Catholic Charities $51,770 since August 1998 for meals at high-priced restaurants, sometimes dining alone. Charity money also paid for laser hair removal treatments and wrinkle injections--at the same time Catholic Charities may be closing a shelter for the homeless, contending it would need new contracts for more money from government agencies to keep many programs afloat.

Hudson unapologetically told the Chronicle (June 2, 2000) he had to eat in lavish restaurants to be seen by power brokers. "Believe me, I'd much rather be at home eating a peanut butter sandwich."

Archbishop William Levada in late June reaffirmed his support for Hudson.

The Foundation, a national watchdog group for state/church separation, told the Board of Supervisors that "It is impossible to separate Catholic Charities from its Catholic mission," including the church's stance against abortion, gay rights and distribution of condoms to fight AIDS, "contributing on a global scale to human suffering and misery and adversely impacting the lives of poor people and children in San Francisco."

The state/church group suggested the city spend the millions of public funds it now funnels to a church group to create "accountable, secular, city-run services which will place the client first, not theology--or its CEO's over-the-top lifestyle," Gaylor said.

, the Freedom From Religion Foundation formally urged the U.S. Agency for International Relief Services to strike Catholic Relief Services from eligibility in the Food for Peace program, after an AID-conducted audit revealed the group had charged famine victims for food donated by the U.S. government. It has refused food to African mothers and children who could not afford the fees, according to an article in the New York Times (Oct. 21, 1986).

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