A new Denver public message couldn’t be more timely: “Practice social distancing between church and state.”
The dictum on a backlit 10-foot-by-23-foot billboard situated on Broadway south of 10th Avenue is brought to city residents by the national Freedom From Religion Foundation, thanks to a local donor and FFRF’s Denver chapter.
“Practicing distancing is extremely important these days,” notes FFRF benefactor Monty C. Cleworth. “Not just distancing for COVID reasons, but also distancing between church and state. We wouldn’t want to transmit anything that is unhealthy and dangerous.”
Adds Claudette StPierre, Denver chapter president, “We social distance to prevent the spread of infectious agents like COVID-19. Distancing between state and church is just as important to prevent the spread of religious dogma and doctrine into our government.”
Among local state/church issues is the taxpayer bailout money received by Denver-area churches. Associated Press, which found that the Roman Catholic Church was one of the largest recipients of the pandemic relief Paycheck Protection Program, receiving from $1.4 billion to $3.4 billion, reports that the Denver Archdiocese’s share was at least $1.9 million. Last fall, an investigation revealed that more than 150 children were abused by 43 priests in the archdiocese and in the Colorado Springs and Pueblo dioceses.
Additionally, other Colorado churches and faith-based organizations have received millions of tax dollars in coveted PPP loans.
“This is an unprecedented use of taxpayer money to pay the salaries of priests, pastors and staff of faith-based organizations, yet there is no accountability to taxpayers by these entities,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
FFRF warmly thanks Monty C. Cleworth and its Denver chapter for making possible the educational billboard, which will be up for one month.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national freethought association dedicated to keeping state and church separate, with more than 32,000 members and several chapters all over the country, including almost 1,000 members in Colorado, with chapters in Denver and Colorado Springs.