New Taxes? For God's Sake!

Tax dollars will support churches and parochial schools

By Matt Bartosik
|  Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009  |  Updated 10:28 AM CDT
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Chocolates for Jesus

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Should Jesus get the proceeds from the sin tax?

God, this candy tax stinks.

Today begins a series of new state taxes on items like candy, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages. But the levy on these indulgences won't just be going to the state roads, bridges, and public schools. Your "sin tax" might also be paid to a higher power.

As blogger Rob Sherman of Godless in Chicago reports, along with statewide construction, the new tax revenue will support "politically connected" churches, parochial schools and religious ministries.

The 996-page Capital Bill lists more than 50 houses of worship and religious facilities that will receive grants "for costs associated with renovations and improvements" from the Build Illinois Bond Fund, including Epworth United Methodist Church, Saint Patrick High School, Bethel Lutheran Church, St. Ann Catholic School, and Pleasant Ridge Missionary Baptist Church.

Anywhere from $25,000 to $750,000 will be appropriated from the Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for grants to each facility.

Sherman argues that these grants are unconstitutional:

"The new taxes... violates (sic) Article I, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution, which states, in pertinent part, that 'No person shall be required to ... support any ministry or place of worship against his consent, nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination...'

"The taxes also violate Article X, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution, which states, in pertinent part, that the General Assembly shall never 'make any appropriation or pay from any public fund, whatever, anything in aid of any church or sectarian purpose, or to help support any school [that is] controlled by any church; nor shall any grant of money ever be made by the State to any church.'"

Sherman plans to file a lawsuit later this month.

What do you think? Are these grants a violation of the separation between Church and State? Should tax dollars be used to support churches and parochial schools?

Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, thinks the construction plan should include a Stairway to Heaven.

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