Attorneys with Americans United have warned legislators in
In an Aug. 19 letter to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Americans United insisted that the Constitution clearly forbids the use of public funds to subsidize religion.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed an infrastructure-improvement bill allocating $40 million in grants to at least 97 religious organizations within the state. The bill fails to place any restrictions on these organizations’ use of the funds.
“We ask that you review all of the grants to recipients identified on the attached list, as well as any other grants slated for religious organizations, to ensure constitutional compliance,” AU’s letter insisted. “Pervasively sectarian organizations should be denied the funds altogether, and for all other organizations, restrictions and safeguards must be put in place to prevent state funds from being used to advance religion.”
AU asked that the state take three steps to avoid church-state entanglement: Stipulate that the funds not be used to support religious activity, put regulations and monitoring in place to ensure that the grants are used exclusively for secular purposes and refrain from making direct cash payments to pervasively sectarian organizations.
The government-sponsored giveaway to religion is especially ironic in
Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn said he is deeply troubled by the constitutional implications of the
“Government is forbidden by the Constitution to fund religion,” said
“No American should ever be forced to contribute money in support of religion,”
The Chicago Tribune reported that the bill earmarks $250,000 for renovations to the Friendship House of Christian Service in
Americans United’s protest to