Lose your religion for tax purposes

April 18, 2007 | By | 3 Replies More

A Jesuit college in St. Louis just won a Missouri Supreme Court case allowing them to get public money, $8 million of it, for their college.  Not being one that believes public money should be spent in support of religion, I was aghast. 

“How could that possibly happen?” you might say.  The answer is rather interesting.  The Jesuits claimed that although it was a Jesuit university (St. Louis University), they didn’t actually govern the school.  No matter that they teach religion, that guys wearing dressing gowns and sandals, and women wearing wimples do some of the teaching, and I’d be surprised if they would grant tenure to someone who was as anti-religion as I am, they claim not to be actually governing the school.

Judge Mary Russell, who wrote for the majority (6-1 decision, a Jewish judge was the only hold out), said, ” The bylaws show a motivation to act under Jesuit or Catholic ideals or beliefs, but aspiration to ideals does not equate to the kind of control of a univeristy’s operation or management that is proscribed by Missouri’s establishment clause.”

I think what she is saying is that the university tries to be Jesuit, but doesn’t do it very well.  Apparently that is what the Jesuits claimed, and the Court bought the argument.  Well, actually Missourians bought the argument since they get to pay for the university’s new gym.

The holdout Judge, Richard Teitelman, (who by the way faced a nasty re-election not long ago because he was the only non-Christian on the Missouri Supreme Court bench), said it best: “The languge in the bylaws is not simply a matter of St. Louis University’s affiliation or tradition; it is a matter of the university’s identity and governance.” 

And by the way, there never was a trial in this matter.  It was one of “summary judgment” meaning basically that no evidence was needed, it was decided as a matter of law.  

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Category: Current Events, Law, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

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My life's goal is to make a difference; to help those stuck in the mire of poverty and ignorance. I am an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, whether from ignorance, from lack of eloquence or simple lack of opportunity.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Where there's a will, there's a way. The strictest law can be made to bend over backwards when a big sports arena is at stake. To many people, sports is the most important religion of all.

    Now how can we make providing decent healthcare to all citizens to be seen as a religion that is even more important than sports, so important that our judges will willingly bend some laws to get it done?

  2. Ben says:

    Hard to pick sides here, I mean, they have a right to learn. And from what I see, a lot of kids who go away to college (even religious colleges) end up coming home smarter. Most learn that there are folks in the world who aren't as crazy as their minister. Some might even become proud atheists (at least when blogging).

    Erich, fyi sports are a wonderful way to watch other people stay in shape.

  3. Devi says:

    We weren't talking about a right to learn. The money the Jesuit college was after from taxpayers wasn't for classrooms, or teachers, or books. It was 10% of a 80 million dollars basketball court (sorry, arena). It has nothing to do with learning, it has to do with playing. I'm all for playing, but how about making it PUBLIC so we can all play there, instead of for religious devotees? Maybe not all their students are devotees of Roman Catholocism, but it would be hard to look at all those bloody Jesuses hanging from crosses around the campus if you weren't.

    I just find it amazing that a religious university would be so driven for money that they would claim they aren't REALLY a religious university, they just pretend to be one.

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