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.