Why is the (Christian) Jubilee Market Getting $1,000,000 of Taxpayer Money?

This is the Jubilee Market in Chicago (pics courtesy of Rob Sherman):



(You can see the fine print on that second pic — “Serving You with the Care of Christ” and “Believe in Jesus Christ and Be Saved… Acts 16:31″)

If you look at other pics of the place, it only gets more Jesufied. Not surprising since it is basically a Christian convenience store.

Jubilee Market is going to receive $1,000,000 in taxpayer money “for costs associated with capital improvements” unless someone puts a stop to it.

Sherman, an atheist activist, called the owner of the building, Reverend Walter McCray (who runs Black Light Fellowship). Sherman had to call McCray because he wasn’t in his own store… because it seems to be non-functional.

Here’s how their conversation went down:

Sherman: Is the store open?

McCray: I am there occasionally.

Sherman: But is the store operating?

McCray: I ran out of money to operate the store due to the economic downturn.

Sherman: What are you going to do with the million dollars?

McCray: My people said that I’m not allowed to talk about that.

Sherman: Well, are you going to build a new place with the money or re-open here, and if you are going to build new, where are you going to build?

McCray: I’m not allowed to say.

Sherman: Who is the legislator who sponsored the line item to give you the million dollars?

McCray: I’m not allowed to talk about that, either.

Sherman: Is this store an extension of your Christian ministry?

McCray: I’m a reverend. Everything that I do is an extension of my Christian ministry.

Sherman: Thank you for your time, Reverend McCray.

McCray: Is this going to be in the newspaper?

Sherman: It’s going to be in Godless in Chicago, which is an on-line blog that can be read at Chicago Now dot com.

Again, I don’t know why there isn’t a bigger outcry in my state about this capital bill that is giving millions to tax-exempt religious organizations.

Sherman writes:

This million dollar grant to a private Christian ministry grocery store is one of the line items in the Capital Bill that I will be challenging when I file suit, most likely next week, to stop hundreds of donations of your tax dollars to politically connected houses of worship, parochial schools and religious ministries. The grant to Jubilee Market will be challenged on the grounds that it violates the Illinois Constitution’s prohibition against requiring any person to support a ministry against his consent, the prohibition against the State showing a preference to any religious denomination, and the requirement that public funds be used for public purposes.

Good luck and Godspeed, Rob.

(via Godless in Chicago)

  • bill

    there’s something extremely jesus-fishy about that. even if the money is used for that market, its blatantly against the illinois constitution. but the way that guy was talking sounds like a few people could end up in jail for fraud or something of the like…

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Yes more Christians cheating and lying. When will it end?

  • Demetrius Of Pharos

    To quote Eddie Izzard (imagine him having a conversation with himself)

    “Godspeed.”
    “Which god?”
    “I don’t know, Buddhist gods!”
    “They don’t believe in gods.”
    “Yeah, technically”.

    Or something to that effect.

  • http://julieclawson.com Julie Clawson

    So the business is cheezy and there is probably more to this story, but should only atheists get bailout money? Really? Every business has some sort of person with a belief system behind it – whatever that may be. Should halal or kosher stores be exempt because they are religious? Or should only christians be discriminated against?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    So the business is cheezy and there is probably more to this story, but should only atheists get bailout money? Really? Every business has some sort of person with a belief system behind it – whatever that may be. Should halal or kosher stores be exempt because they are religious? Or should only christians be discriminated against?

    No one’s arguing that only atheists should get bailout money. And I don’t care that the guy is a Christian. That’s irrelevant here.

    But the store is clearly promoting one religion. (Is it tax exempt? I don’t know. Is it part of his church? I don’t know. He didn’t answer that.) There are also millions more dollars being given to Catholic schools. There are churches receiving this money.

    That’s what I’m opposed to. They don’t pay taxes, and they don’t deserve public money.

    The money should be going to services available to anyone, not just people of one faith or no faith.

  • J Myers

    … but should only atheists get bailout money?

    Secular ≠ atheistic

    Or should only christians be discriminated against?

    Not being allowed something to which you have no right is not discrimination.

  • Dan W

    Julie, it’s not discrimination to stop unconstitutional funding. The Illinois constitution forbids the state’s government from giving money to fund religious groups. I assume that’s because the government is not supposed to support one religion over any others. The government is supposed to be completely secular. I’d prefer government money goes to help people of all religious views, rather than just one religious group.

  • Brad

    Why shouldn’t tax funded money go to Christian organisations? Tax money is used for lots of different purposes. Everyone doesn’t benefit from every purpose. Christian’s pay taxes as well. Why should they be excluded.

  • http://pastorwick.blogspot.com WICK

    wow. his own answers reveal the truth about this being something Christianity is not about.

    Even a believer should be able to man up to the fact that Jesus would not have said, “my people have advised me not to answer that question” in regards to something like this.

  • Lurker

    Brad, as already stated, the Illinois constitution prohibits money going to religious organizations. Even if it didn’t, the money going to a particular organization that is open to 70-80% of the population excludes the remaining 20-30% while taxes do not overlook that 20-30%.

    When it comes to the particular location, there is likely an abundance of better suited places (religiously affiliated and otherwise) that could use the money. The fact that the owner has admitted it has not been open and that he would not comment on the majority of questions asked calls into question what giving him $1,000,000 would benefit.

  • Matt D

    @Brad

    yeh, maybe it is fair that some christian organisations get some money from the public purse. But on that basis, it would be only fair that other religious organisations get a proportionate part of the pie.

    does anyone know if other religious groups are getting money in this free-for-all or is it just christians?

    more importantly, how does one guy get a million bucks to fix up a crappy old store that he couldnt run properly. I’ve got my own business and certainly dont expect to get a mill if I go ass up.

    my bet – if he gets the cash the store will relocate and someone will “acquire” his site very cheaply. no way is this deal legit – I smells a rat I tells ya”!!

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Damn, everyone should get in on this. Run your own business? Simply append “Ministry” to the business name or suffix it with “Jesus” and you’ll get a $million. If you run a hardware store call it Jesus Hardware Ministry and get $2million free.

    The money must just magically appear or something. Don’t worry about the details.

  • Ruby

    Brad: Xtian orgs do NOT pay taxes. That is just ONE of the myriad reasons this stinks. Churches should NOT receive help from the govt., they don’t pay taxes because they are organizations that are supposed to be supported by their membership. And just why does the federal government give cheesy guys like this money without actually finding out how the money will be spent?

  • Gordon

    Seriously, why are churches tax exempt? In these economic times when governments are looking desperately for revenue for vital services why are they missing the elephant in the room that is the vast flow of money through the churches?

  • Wallace

    Prime numbers:

    Oh please. Are you serious? People lie regardless if they are religious or not. Most take advantage of the system and use loopholes whenever possible, not just “some” Christians.

    When will the ignorance end?

  • http://beefybass.wordpress.com Randy Rose

    Wallace:

    It is obvious that people from all walks of life lie. I imagine that Prime Numbers was attempting to point out that, for a group of people who claim to follow a book that explicitly spells out that thou shalt not bear false witness, a great many christians are found lying, often publicly, and often about things that greatly hurt those around them.

    As an observation, it just seems that the magnitude of the lies perpetuated by religious institutions and persons associated with those institutions are often much more destructive than lies by people associated with secular organizations.


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