Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has proposed spending $1 million in public funds to help restore a Chicago church that was destroyed by fire.
Blagojevich defended his proposal against complaints that it would violate the separation of church and state. At a press conference, he said the state spends its money this way all the time and that the tax dollars would be used to rebuild the church’s school and administration offices, the Chicago Tribune reported on Jan. 11.
The governor also said that Pilgrim Baptist Church is a historical landmark in the African-American community, serving “as a place of tremendous activity” during the civil rights movement.
The Illinois ACLU sent a letter to the governor seeking more information about the proposal. The ACLU’s letter said the proposal on its face raised “obvious religious liberty issues.”
According to the Tribune, the governor’s proposal would “likely help generate support among African-Americans whose votes he needs this election year.”