* A Democratic House candidate has one of the odder ideas I’ve ever seen. He’s campaigning on a platform to get state money for churches. From a press release…
Chicago Businessman and Police Officer Richard Wooten, a candidate for State Representative in Illinois’ 34th District and Committeeman in Chicago’s 6th Ward, said if he is elected to those offices, he will fight for programs to revitalize struggling churches.
The churches are struggling, Wooten said, because high unemployment led to a decline in church attendance and tithing, resulting in a growing number of churches going into foreclosure or severe debt. In many churches that are able to keep their doors open, Wooten said the pastors are spending less time addressing the needs of members and residents, because they have to spend too much time making sure the electric and gas stays on. This week churches received even more bad news when Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration announced that the mayor wants churches to start paying water bills, adding to the mounting utility debts.
“If Wall Street and the automotive industry can be bailed out, why can’t we provide support to our churches?” asked Wooten, an associate pastor at Faith Walk Church International in Chicago. “The economy has had a devastating effect on our churches, which have been the backbone of our communities. When they are healthy, our families are healthy, and when our families are healthy, our communities are healthy. If we truly want to help people in need, we have to help our churches.”
Wooten will gather with pastors on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at 10 a.m. CT. for a press conference. The press event will be held at 434-440 E. 79th St. in Chicago.
Black churches have always been very influential on South Side politics, so this is a pretty darned blatant attempt to win over their support.
* From the Illinois Constitution…
SECTION 3. PUBLIC FUNDS FOR SECTARIAN PURPOSES FORBIDDEN
Neither the General Assembly nor any county, city, town, township, school district, or other public corporation, shall ever make any appropriation or pay from any public fund whatever, anything in aid of any church or sectarian purpose, or to help support or sustain any school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary or scientific institution, controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatever; nor shall any grant or donation of land, money, or other personal property ever be made by the State, or any such public corporation, to any church, or for any sectarian purpose.
I asked the Wooten campaign how the candidate justified his proposal in light of the Constitution, but haven’t heard back. Whatever. This isn’t about constitutionality. It’s about votes. Plain and simple.