Letter to John Wiley

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

Dear Chancellor:

On behalf of our Wisconsin constituency, I urge you to veto the misguided decision by students to award $147,000 in student fees to the UW Roman Catholic Foundation for purposes which include worship.

Dean Lori Berquam was correct to caution students that segregated fees from a public university may not be used for worship or to support church-related activity.

This well-heeled Roman Catholic center, which serves about 10,000 Catholic students, should be asking for funding from Catholic students, their parents and the Diocese, not from the diverse student body, most of whom are not Roman Catholic!

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.

If you approve this unlawful and misguided expenditure by students–who are not attorneys and have been intimidated by a powerful non-student institution–you know as well as I that the floodgates will be opened. Every campus church and religious entity will be relentlessly demanding funding of their religious pursuits by students at your secular institution. Wisconsin’s state university system will become hopelessly entangled with church mission activity.

Even given today’s courts, we do not believe judges will uphold outright subsidy of worship through a public institution. The simple and wise remedy is to continue to enforce a policy whereby student segregated fees may not be used directly or indirectly for worship or church activity.

Yours very truly

Annie Laurie Gaylor

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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