Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Separation of Church And State? Not In Illinois.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is currently being questioned about the legality of his $1 million pledge of state funds to rebuild Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago after a recent fire.

The questions involve the spending of state money to rebuild a church or its property.

The answer to this question should be obvious. The state should not give churches money to rebuild/improve their property. Yet this is exactly what Blago is doing.

How does he explain it? He says that the money from the state will go to rebuild the school and administrative buildings of the church and not the sanctuary itself.

If it was anyone else but Blago, I would think this was a joke.

I would think that no sane person, or at least one with a few neurons, would think that there is a difference between buildings owned by a church and their functions. Sure, the functions are differentiated, but this does not change the fact that THEY ARE OWNED BY A CHURCH!

What is really involved here is the fact that Blago is scared going into an election year. He needs to rally the base and part of this base is African-Americans in Chicago. By making this gesture of state money, he is showing that he will speak to community interests and that Springfield cares and so does he.

They care so much, in fact, that they are willing to ignore the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Illinois to show it.

This blatant indirect vote-buying by the governor shows, as the Jack Abramoff affair is at a national level, that money equals influence. This is not altruism on Blago's part. It is a savvy political move in an election year where he may face a contentious primary for the Democratic party. Granted, he is the incumbent governor. He cannot forget, however, that he is the first Democrat from the Chicago area to be governor since Dan Walker in 1973. Downstate may be laughable to most Chicago-area people, but it can decide elections.

As for the larger issue, this is a fine farewell as an Illinois taxpayer to have my money go to fund a political hand-out to a church that I do not attend in a move that abrogates a basic tenet of American government.

Churches, you are tax-exempt entities. Raise the money yourselves among the members of your congregation. Seek outside funding if necessary. Just not from the state.

Oh, and by the way, if you think that my objection is because this is an African-American congregation and I am a racist ex-suburbanite, you are too ignorant to understand my larger points anyway.

Sorry I couldn't simplify it for you.

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