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Candidate: State should be giving money to churches

Monday, Mar 5, 2012 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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


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.



  1. - publius - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    blago gave tax money to a church on the south side, a million bucks as i recall.

  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:33 am:

    Turning to the state to save churches? Mr. Wooten, if you had but the faith of a mustard seed, you could move mountains.

  3. - TCB - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    @ publius

    a lot of churches and religion-focused private school are recieving money as part of the capital bill which passed a couple. This isn’t just a Blago issue. These are all projects that legislators added to the program in order to be able to vote for it. They wanted to be able to hold events & ribbon cuttings in their districts.

  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:37 am:

    ===blago gave tax money to a church on the south side, a million bucks as i recall. ===

    He tried, but, as usual, he screwed it up.

  5. - Wensicia - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    The Lord will provide…

    Why do candidates run on blatantly unconstitutional platforms? They can rely upon the ignorance of the voting public.

  6. - corvax - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    I like the bright line drawn by the constitution. Too many issues, including, obviously, how to decide which ’sectarian’ entities get the help? As i ask my friends who would breach the church/state line by allowing public prayer in schools–which gov’t agency or official do you trust to pick (or write!?) the prayers? are you ready to accommodate every sectarian voice?

  7. - Dan Shields, Springfield, IL - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    I am an active United Methodist and practicing Christian, but the constitution states that there is a separation of Church and State. On top of this idea being unconstitutional the State of Illinois cannot afford to spend money they don’t have. The State can’t pay the basic bills they owe now.

  8. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    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.

    (emphasis added)

    If people flee your church when they are suffering from hardships, you’re doing it wrong.

    – MrJM

  9. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    No. Just no.

  10. - Constitutionally Confused - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:00 am:


    Which kind of Illinois Constitution is this? The unenforceable kind, the kind we chose not to enforce, or the enforceable kind?

    Every time someone references the constitution these days, I feel the need to ask for clarification.

    (ps. Didn’t Barack Obama as a state senator send state money To St. Sabina? I seem to recall him getting campaign contributions back from the church, also)

  11. - Just Observing - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:01 am:

    === It’s about votes. Plain and simple.===

    Rich, while I’m generally a cynical person — I’m not 100 percent sure this is just about votes. Lots of people maintain very goofy ideas and sincerely believe in them — as unconstitutinal and as wayward as this proposal may be — he may be very genuine in his belief that the state should be supporting the “good work” of churches.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:07 am:

    “I would be in favor of the state helping struggling bowling alleys. With the economy in such peril, bowling has been taking it on the chin, and it was always the local bowling alley that kept the community together, especially during the dark winter months.

    Where O Where will we go next winter, with no bowling alley and attached bar? Bowling alleys were once the epicenter of all towns, and now look at what the economy has done!

    Thursday nights are much quieter, and with fewer knocking down pins (or knocking down ‘cold ones’). Where is the ‘Americana’ I knew and loved so much?

    Illinois needs to revitalize struggling bowling alleys. We need our ‘Beer Frames’, we need our ‘High Series’ specials …we need … Candelinght Bowl.

    I am asking today that the General Assembly and the Governor do what is right … and what is just … and revitalize our towns … revitalize our bowling alleys.


    Alfred Brunswick
    Candidate for State Senate - ‘60th’ District.”

  13. - Constitutionally Confused - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:12 am:

    Oswego Willy - change ‘bowling alleys’ in your rant to ‘museums’ or ‘professional sports stadiums’ or any number of other things, and you have a perfectly normal legislative funding request.

    Confer: Bruce Dumont and the ‘Museum of Brodcast Communications’

  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    - Constitutionally Confused -

    My point …exactly.

  15. - Langhorne - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:14 am:

    That pesky constitution getting in the way. Again

  16. - Irish - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:17 am:

    No,the state should not be in the business of subsidizing sectarian organizations.

    And as sectarian organizations become more involved in providing services to communities and as they become some of the larger employers in the state and in the nation there needs to be a line drawn where they lose their ability to be immune to laws that govern employers as a whole. And they cannot dictate services provided by using the excuse that it violates their doctrine if they have a monopoly on that service for a large area.
    An example would be OSF. They are taking over small hospitals throughout central Illinois. They are forcing employees and patients to live by their doctrines or they are fired or do not get access to services that are outside the church doctrine. There has to be a point where they go beyond their sectarian boundaries and enter the arena of an employer subject to the rules that every other employer has to live by.

  17. - Y2D - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:30 am:

    Wully of Oswego -

    Love it… your point is as clear as sunshine.

  18. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:41 am:

    Rob Sherman, your table is ready.

  19. - Peggy R/Southern - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    Absolutely not. It would be tantamount to an establishment of state religion. Further, it would interfere with the religious freedom of those churches. They’d be sorry. He who pays the piper calls the tunes.

    The bad times will pass. We are all suffering.

  20. - Roger F - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    Whatever happened to Rob Sherman? He had a much ballyhooed lawsuit back about 5 years ago when he tried to take on the entire state budgeting process because there was money allocated for downstate religious shrines.

    Press releases from him when he filed his lawsuit against the state rained down upon us like pennies from heaven, but I never heard how it turned out…

  21. - OneMan - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    Mr. Brunswick,

    Your point is well taken, but to better prepare our children for a more international and multicultural world. Where people will need to interact with folks from many different cultures. I for one would suggest that the state begin an agressive program in this economy of growing the states population of curlers.

    Curling is a growing sport not only in this nation, but in Canada one of our major trading partners. Just imagine the cultural exchanges that can occur once Illinois has a sufficient number of curlers.
    But getting to this point will create jobs in the important areas of construction, ice arena installation and development and curling supplies sales.

    David ‘Rocky’ Stone — Candidate

  22. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    –Curling is a growing sport not only in this nation, but in Canada one of our major trading partners. –

    Curling is a Cheesehead thing, like ice fishing and sending state troopers to arrest senators. It’s not for the civilized.

    Those new Brunswick bowling centers are pretty sweet — so is the joint in Marina City. They’re nothing at all like the old smoky alleys I hung out in as a kid, with the jars of hard-boiled eggs and pickled pigs feet and the old men holding down bar stools all day long.

    There are at least a couple of renovated old neighborhood bars (Lucky Strike?) on the North Side that have alleys with real-life pin monkeys. If you slip a rolled-up buck in one of the ball holes, you’re guaranteed a strike.

  23. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 12:37 pm:

    While Mr. Stone is making the arguement for a “world culture” for our children, the “Americana” of which I speak has been crystalized perfectly by wordslinger, which is no suprise.

    Wordslinger, I ask YOU to join my Blue Ribbon commitee that will never meet, and have really nothing to say on the matter, and ask others to march, in their three-colored bowling shoes to the Governor’s Mansion and demand … demand … that bowling alleys be considered for funding and regain their place in neighborhoods.

    We need the bowling alley. we need the attached bar to our bowling alleys … we need our America.


    Alfred Brunswick
    Candidate - ‘60th’ District, Illinois Senate

  24. - Y2D - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    And now a committee … that’s killer stuff.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 12:50 pm:

    “Blue Ribbon” committee …

  26. - OneMan - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 12:53 pm:

    Yet again, our the selfish needs of our urban areas are trumping the needs of small town Illinois. Places like Triumph Illinois where curling contributes to the local economy. It is the most civilized of sports. It involves fair play, and sweeping. Any great nation is built upon the concepts of cleanliness and beer after sports.

    Curling when it comes down to it is North America.

    Mr. Wordslinger, those are fighting words…

    David ‘Rocky’ Stone — Candidate

  27. - Wensicia - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 12:57 pm:

    Maybe that should be the Pabst Blue Ribbon committee…

  28. - Leave a Light on George - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 1:09 pm:


    Curling…..”It’s not for the civilized.”

    Why you uppity $%^%%$! You probably are a Cub fan.

  29. - Conservative Veteran - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 1:38 pm:

    I hope that the legislature won’t give money to churches. If that happens, the tax money, from Jews and atheists, might be given to churches that are disliked by the Jews and atheists. If the legislators wants to help churches, they should cut tax rates. When people have more money, because of lower tax rates, some of those people give more money to churches.

  30. - Y2D - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 1:38 pm:

    I’m glad Rocky is sweeping this debate. It helps to keep my Olympic hopes alive. Just imagine how good that will sound explaining to the ladies at the bar that I hope to make it to the Olympics.

    Support the coolest sport, USA Curling and David ‘Rocky’ Stone.

    Olympic Hopeful and fan of glide, or is it slide?


  31. - wishbone - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    “This isn’t about constitutionality.”

    No, it’s about idiocy.

  32. - Just Observing - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    === the tax money, from Jews and atheists, might be given to churches that are disliked by the Jews and atheists. ===

    I know you didn’t mean this way, but point of clarification, Jews (including myself) and probably atheists too, don’t “dislike” churches — it just ain’t our thing.

  33. - amalia - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 2:58 pm:

    thankfully, the tide seems to be going the other way in Illinois. the start of charging for water meters in Chicago, the changing of the sacrosanct tone re fees for not for profits (read Burke talking about Roman Catholic institutions and others on the AfAm churches) all shows that the public is sick of paying for a religious decision by an individual. also good thing, taking vouchers off the table. we just don’t have enough money to keep our government and public institutions going so we cannot give it to religions. blatant vote appeal on the part of the candidate.

  34. - OneMan - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 3:00 pm:

    It’s a slide…

    David ‘Rocky’ Stone

  35. - bored now - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 3:05 pm:

    wooten isn’t exactly a serious candidate in the race. so i suspect that this is less about votes and more about something after election day…

  36. - I'm just sayin - Monday, Mar 5, 12 @ 6:11 pm:

    If you think his idea is strange- take a look at the D 2’s of some of these elected officials who regularly receive $$ from churches and not-for-profits.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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