Rob Sherman, the atheist from Chicago who has a long history of filing lawsuits supporting church/state separation, has outdone himself this time.
He filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) “to block $2.3 billion in Illinois grants from the $31 billion Capital Bill that was enacted into law last year.”
This is something he has been working on for a few months now.
As I’ve written about before, a lot of those Illinois grants are going to religious organizations.
Not just Christian ones, either (PDF):
Grants to houses of worship that are being challenged in this lawsuit include $150,000 for Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam Temple in Chicago. The Nation of Islam is best known for advocating the hatred of white people.
Grants to parochial schools that are being challenged include $500,000 for a new school building for Christ the King Jesuit College Prep (Roman Catholic high school) in Chicago. The sponsor of this grant of tax dollars, State Representative LaShawn Ford, is on the Board of Trustees of Christ the King College Prep.
Grants to religious ministries that are being challenged include $35,000 to the Hillel Foundation at Northwestern University, whose mission is “to inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life.”
According to Sherman, the most problematic grant (PDF) being requested is for $2,300,000,000… to Governor Pat Quinn… for “discretionary grants to unspecified providers.” In other words, “[t}he grant allows the Governor to essentially play Santa Claus and give the money to pretty much anybody or any organization that he wants.”
The first hearing about this case in court should occur in two weeks.
I want to know how state legislators defend their requests on behalf of these religious groups.
If they take a cue from State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), Sherman should have a slam-dunk case:
One of the organizations listed in the suit is the St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Newman Center, located on the campus of Illinois State University. The facility serves Catholic university students and is set to receive $200,000 in state funds. State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who is running for governor, requested money for the project.
… Brady previously said it was appropriate to spend public money for the Newman Center project in Normal because it could behalf all students, not just Catholic students.
Right… because the Newman Center is where *all* the students go to just hang out…
These groups do not deserve taxpayer money, nor is it legal for them to receive it. I would hope the courts know this.
Sherman is a polarizing figure, no doubt, but in this case he has earned the support of anyone, religious or not, who believes in the separation of church and state.