Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent C. Gray has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for $15 million to repair the National Cathedral, which was damaged by an earthquake in August.
Gray has tried to argue that the Episcopal cathedral has secular value, calling it a “treasured monument that welcomes a half-million people from across the world annually, and their visits have a tremendous impact on the city’s economy,” according to an Oct. 25 article in the Christian Post.
The cathedral has already received $700,000 this year through a “Save America’s Treasures” grant from the National Park Service, but this large request by Gray has drawn the ire of Americans United and other groups on church-state separation grounds.
AU Communications Director Joe Conn wrote in a blog post that: “Asking the taxpayers to pick up the tab sets a very bad precedent and jeopardizes a critically important edifice that protects us all: the wall of separation between church and state.”
The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, head of the Interfaith Alliance, expressed a similar sentiment.
“The United States government should not be using the money of taxpayers who affiliate with many different religions – or no religion – to build, repair or maintain religious institutions,” Gaddy told the Los Angeles Times.