Illinois Gives Money to Christian Group for Cross; Atheist May Sue

The state of Illinois, which is refusing to give public schools the hundreds of millions of dollars they are owed, had no problem giving $20,000 to Friends of the Cross “for the purchase and installation of new exterior panels for the cross to replace existing panels that are missing, worn or rusted.”

This is the cross they wanted to fix, located in southwestern Illinois:

More money was given to them later, too.

Atheist Rob Sherman is trying to do something about it.

He attended a meeting of the Christian group last night and asked that they return the money.

If members do not, Sherman said he will file a lawsuit to force the return of the money.

The cross is operated by a group that makes being a Christian a requirement for membership on its board of directors, Sherman noted. And the Illinois Constitution bars the legislature from granting money “for any sectarian purpose,” he said.

“If this isn’t unconstitutional, I don’t know what is,” he said.

And what was the group’s response?

The Friends intend to listen politely to Sherman but refuse to return the money, said the Rev. Bill Vandergraph, pastor of the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in Alto Pass.

A repaired cross will be a big tourist draw and that justifies the use of state funds, Vandergraph said.

“This guy is a noted atheist, and he has no concerns about church and state,” he said. “He is just against anything religious.”

To paraphrase: Sherman is completely right, so we’ll just try to attack his character by calling him an atheist.

Governor Pat Quinn won’t do anything about this. He has already allowed $2,300,000,000 to go to religious groups (and Sherman has filed a lawsuit against that, too).

The more exposure Sherman gets for his potential lawsuit, the better. The Christian group is just hoping this is far enough below the radar so that no one will notice the illegality of all of this.

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

    Why is it that Christians go on about how moral they are, but repeatedly break the rules and the law like this for their own benefit?

  • Hitch

    No they don’t like separation of church and state and don’t perceive it beneficial. If state money could flow to their causes, that would be good. In their mind money supporting Christianity would be moral, not immoral.

    But that’s the brilliance of Jefferson and Madison. They recognized that the first and foremost bulwark against corrosion of a secular society is the watering down of that barrier. Hence it’s the very first article of the bill of rights addressing it. That’s how important this is.

  • NewEnglandBob

    If you want to find a lack of morality – look to religion. There lies a vast wasteland of emptiness.

  • JD

    Not only that, the architectural merits of that cross are dubious at best. With the little cupola on top, it looks like a prison installation.

    If they want money to maintain that thing, they should lease it out as a cellular tower.

  • James Thompson

    Could it be any uglier?

    Glad I don’t live near it.

  • Florian

    Damn, that’s one ugly cross.

  • Aaron

    Wow! That is a big honkin’ cross! That thing must be about 200 111 feet tall.

    Yep, 111 feet tall. Man, I am good. Confirmed at Wikipedia.

    Funny, it was built with private money, why can’t it be maintained with private money? I thought a lot of these religious folks were all about free enterprise and wanted the government to spend less money. Hmm.
    Oh, I see! It is a big tourist attraction! That is why it needs to be propped with public money. Just like Six Flags!

  • Trace

    “This guy is a noted ….”

    fill the blank.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Aaron,

    I thought a lot of these religious folks were all about free enterprise and wanted the government to spend less money

    Methinks thou thinketh too much… :-)

  • Canadiannalberta

    It doesn’t surprise me they think a cross is more important then children.

  • Siamang

    Does anyone else look at the top of that cross and think it’s actually a robot in disguise?

    “This guy is a noted atheist, and he has no concerns about church and state,” he said. “He is just against anything religious.”

    LOLZ!!! That’s AWESOME!!

    What an awesome quote. Sometimes people just write their own ticket, don’t they?

  • JT

    I think Siamang is hitting at the real heart of the matter. It isn’t a tourist attraction for the most boring tourists imaginable…It’s the makings of a giant robot. And cross bot couldn’t possibly smash the atheists, gays and feminists with those stumpy little arms. They need public funds to finish construction. I say, bring it! I’ve been working on my giant FSM war balloon and I feel I’m more than prepared. Prepare to feel his noodly touch…of PAIN!

  • http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100426/ap_on_re_as/as_taiwan_earthquake_3 Silent Service

    Almost makes me want to pray. Pray that god sends a tornado to solve the issue some night when the big ugly cross is closed and nobody is there. I’d almost believe in god if that happened.

  • Sada

    I happen to live near this monstrosity…and I’m a little confused. Last summer they ran huge fundraisers all over So. Illinois to raise money to renovate the cross. I thought they had surely raised enough through private donations to fix the thing up…I guess I overestimated the charity of local church groups.

    I also work in a public school…and we would really love that $20,000. Instead we will be laying off all of our aids and getting rid of our 4 pre-school classes/teachers. Thanks Illinois!

  • pmsrhino

    It’s funny (funny because I didn’t know big ass crosses were a normal thing in the world), there’s a HUGE cross right outside Houston on the way to Galveston that I pass by when I go to visit my family and it never fails to bother the shit outta me. You can see it miles down the beltway and at night it’s completely lit up. I can’t imagine the amount of money used to make that piece of shit that could have been much better spent helping the poor and the needy. Instead they wasted good money to offend my senses and shove their religious bullshit down my throat.

    And is it just me or do these types of giant crosses make you think of cross burnings? Anytime I see a free standing big ass cross like that outside in public my mind automatically thinks of cross burnings. Which always manages to make me feel super queasy.

    I hope that guy follows through with the lawsuit. Shit like this should not be tolerated, especially when government funds are involved.

  • Siamang

    If the government funded a cannon near this, and people could step up and blow a hole in CrossBot, would that be a problem for Rev. Bill Vandergraph?

    Would that be a separation of church and state issue to him?

  • Catinthewall

    If they declared it a war monument, the funding would be completely legal though, right?

  • Drew M.

    If they declared it a war monument, the funding would be completely legal though, right?

    Naw, it would just keep disappearing and reappearing.

  • Steve

    Is there any way I can support the opposition?

  • Dan W

    That cross is an eyesore. State funding for it is definitely unconstitutional.

    I was foolish enough to read some of the comments responding to that news article. Some of them were okay, but far too many were just plain moronic. Ugh.

  • Alan McGowan

    This IS SO Christian! lets take money from those who need it and build a big ugly cross with it to promote our cause, then mudsling anyone who opposes it.

  • Richard Wade

    Does anyone else look at the top of that cross and think it’s actually a robot in disguise?

    Cross bot couldn’t possibly smash the atheists, gays and feminists with those stumpy little arms.

    BEHOLD ROBOCROSS IN FULL BATTLE MODE DEPLOYMENT!

    ROBOCROSS!


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