I’ve noticed an increasing amount of comments about this topic, so I figured it deserved its own thread.
There has been some controversy over Governor Rod Blagojevich’s pledge to donate a million dollars in state capital funds to the reconstruction of a building owned by the Pilgrim Baptist Church.
To people who might raise church and state questions, the governorâ€™s office says itâ€™s going to the school, not the church.
But then thereâ€™s the question of state dollars going to a building covered, in part, by insurance and donations.
Not everyone supports the idea.
â€œI donâ€™t think he should be giving state dollars too when those dollars can be going to somewhere else,â€ said Chicago resident Willie Braboy. â€œWhen they get money from here, there and everywhere, and they can build that church up with them other funds, he could be giving them to another cause.â€
The church is vitally important to its neighborhood and is believed to be the birthplace of gospel music, so I, for one, can see the need for state help. Others disagree.
I can also understand that some people feel this is just more grandstanding on the part of a politician perpetually running for re-election.
Governor Rod Blagojevich came to the St. John Missionary Baptist Church Monday night to score points with a huge audience of African-American churchgoers.
Maybe, but, like I said, I think it’s a worthy cause.
What kinda bothers me is some of the coverage of the governor’s pledge. Last night at least one Chicago TV report (no link available at the moment) made it sound as if the governor was pledging his own money to the rebuilding effort.
And this headline on WBBM Radio’s website is particularly egregious:
Governor Donates $1 Million to Rebuild Historic Church
First, it’s not his money. And second, he wants to help rebuild the school and administration building, not the church.
UPDATE: A couple of good points were just made in comments.
What about all of those Illinois First building projects, the legitimate ones such as fire stations and community centers, mostly downstate that are still waiting on the funds Blago has frozen for the past three years?
The church will have numerous donors to help in their rebuilding efforts - and I would hope the roofers who started the fire had some type of bond or insurance that would be liable for the damages.
UPDATE 2: And, despite what Zorn is writing, former state budget director Steve Schnorf makes a very good point in comments.
State government has been making grants and awards to the non-church parts of religious groups forever; textbook grants to church schools, transportation funds for church schools, construction grants to religious-operated schools, etc.