Protest Student Fees for Catholic Worship

Action Alert: Ask Chancellor to Veto $147,000 for Catholic Worship

The University of Wisconsin-Madison student government voted on Feb. 15 to award $147,000 in student fees to the UW Roman Catholic Foundation, indicating for the first time that student segregated fees may be used for worship. Some of the funds will pay for “Lenten booklets.”

The UW’s interim Dean, Lori Berquam, appealed to the Student Council not to approve the funding, pointing out the group operates off campus. The Catholic group claims if it does not get student money, it is being “discriminated against.” A director at the Catholic foundation, Tim Kruse, complained that students fund sex education: “If students come to us for choral music, and they go to other groups for condoms, we don’t want them to fund one and not the other.”

“This well-endowed Roman Catholic center, which serves about 10,000 Catholic students and describes itself as one of the oldest and largest ‘student organizations’ on campus, should be asking for funding from Catholic students, their parents and the Diocese, not from the diverse student body,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. In fact, the group has received funding for the past two years for “secular purposes,” such as a theater arts group. It had asked that more than a quarter of its $850,000 annual budget be paid for by student funds.

“The Catholic Church, which enjoys the major benefit of being taxfree, and which is not required to open its books to the public or the government, is one of the wealthiest churches in the world. It should promulgate its antiwoman, antigay, antiabortion, antibirth control, and anti-freedom of conscience message without ‘robbing’ student fees at a public institution.”

A religious center is not a “cultural” activity, it is a proselytizing activity, she added.

“It is up to Chancellor John Wiley to have the wisdom to uphold the separation of church and state. This misguided action by students would open the floodgates to relentless demands for public funding of religion by campus religious entities,” Gaylor said, “hopelessly entangling church and state.”

Please contact Chancellor Wiley immediately over this matter, asking him to veto the funding:

John Wiley, Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-Madison
161 Bascom Hall
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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