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         May 23, 2010        

Friends of the Cross will do
the Christian thing on Tuesday

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I am confident that, on Tuesday evening, Friends of the Cross will figure out what the Christian thing to do is, with regards to the $20,000 grant that they received on December 31, 2008, from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, to restore a 110-foot-high Christian cross on private property near Alto Pass in southern Illinois.  The only question that I have is:  What is the Christian thing to do when you have received misappropriated money?

I know what I would do, but then again, I'm an atheist, so my ethics are of the highest standards.  Are the Christian standards of honor and integrity as high as mine?

One day, about ten years ago, as I was about to leave a suburban restaurant, I noticed that a customer had left his wallet on the table when he departed.  I went over, picked it up and checked for identification.  I found that the customer lived about a half-mile from the restaurant.  I immediately drove over to his house, rang the doorbell and when he answered the door, I recognized him as the person who had been sitting at that table.

I handed him his wallet and told him that he had left it on the table at the restaurant.  He didn't even realize that it was missing.  He thanked me and offered to give me a reward.  I declined, and told him that I couldn't be sure that somebody else would have returned the wallet intact, so I returned it to him, myself.

About five years ago, I noticed a soft-sided briefcase, lying in the aisle of a nearby shopping center parking lot.  I picked it up and checked inside for identification.  The owner had a date book in the briefcase with his name and address on it.  I drove over to his house to return the briefcase and date book.

This time, the owner knew that his briefcase was missing and was quite upset about it.  He said that he had inadvertently left it on top of his car when he drove off, because he had received a cell phone call when he arrived at his car and got distracted.  He, too, offered a reward, which I declined.

I did, however, receive a reward of a different kind, both times.  That reward was that I learned a little something about myself.  I had always wondered what I would do if I ever obtained money or property that I didn't deserve -- money or property that I knew belonged to somebody else and that I had no right to.  I could have kept it, and nobody when have known -- except me.

I had always hoped that, if that day ever came, that I would act responsibly and return the money and property to the rightful owner, and do it without removing anything of value.  I assumed that, since I'm an atheist, I would do the right thing, since atheists are the leaders in this country when it comes to honorable and ethical behavior, but you never know until the opportunity presents itself.

I passed the test.  I did the right thing.  My reward was learning what the content of my character is.  Knowing, for the rest of my life, the high quality of the content of my character, is worth far more than the few illicit dollars that I might have gained had I chosen not to return, and return intact, what I had acquired.

Friends of the Cross now faces that same test.

When the People of the State of Illinois sent that $20,000 to Springfield, we did it to pay for the State's constitutional obligations, such as roads and bridges, schools and teachers, law enforcement and mass transit.  We didn't send the money to Springfield so that the General Assembly could sneak the money to Friends of the Cross to pay for the cost of rebuilding a 110-foot-high Christian cross on private property.  I think that Friends of the Cross now knows that.

I look forward to finding out, on Tuesday evening, if Friends of the Cross has the same high ethical and character standards that we atheists have, or if Christians' bluster about being on the moral high ground is all just a lot of hot air.

God will be watching on Tuesday!

Previous Rob Sherman News stories on these subject matters:

2010:

Saturday, May 22:  Sherman to tell Friends of the Cross: Return unconstitutional $20,000 State grant

Tuesday, May 4:  Illinois donates $20,000 to restore 111-foot-high Christian cross on private land

Thursday, April 8:  Rob Sherman files $2.3 Billion federal lawsuit against State of Illinois

Monday, March 29:  Illinois agency says they lack power to deny $2.3 billion in challenged grants

Sunday, March 14:  State Government Suggestion Award Board to decide next week on Sherman challenges to $2.3 Billion in state grants to religious organizations

Tuesday, February 16:  Sherman discusses unconstitutional Illinois grants to religious organizations on the Dogma Free America Show

Friday, February 5:  Legislators sponsor millions in grants to themselves

Monday, January 18:  Sherman files challenge to $2.3 Billion in unconstitutional Illinois State grants

2009:

Wednesday, October 28:  Topinka discusses tax dollars for religious organizations

Thursday, October 8:  Illinois cancels $1 million grant to Pilgrim Baptist Church

Wednesday, September 30:  Americans are fleeing religion as atheism surges

Tuesday, September 1:  New taxes to support churches and parochial schools take effect today

Sunday, August 30:  Legislative crime spree devastates Illinois public schools

Wednesday, August 26:  Lisa Madigan promises progress on Pilgrim Baptist litigation

Tues., Aug 25:  Gov. Quinn discusses Pilgrim Baptist litigation and Capital Bill state/church separation controversy

Thursday, August 20:  IL House Speaker Madigan discusses religious organization grants in Capital Bill

Wed., Aug 19:  IL Gov, AG and House Speaker discuss Pilgrim Baptist and Capital Bill scandals with Rob Sherman

Saturday, August 1:  Up to 94% of teens leave church after high school

Friday, July 31:  Quinn budget announcement cuts no money from religion grants

Thursday, July 30:  Jubilee Market owner refuses to talk about $1 million State grant

Tuesday, July 28:  Madigan spokesman bitterly complains:  "Who made Rob Sherman king?"

Wednesday, July 22:  Conservatives agree with Sherman:  Stop State funding of religion

Wednesday, July 15:  Governor meets with Sherman over Capital Bill dispute

Friday, July 10:  General Assembly caught playing hide-the-ball on donations to churches and parochial schools

Wednesday, July 8:  Illinois Auditor General releases report on Pilgrim Baptist grant scam

Tuesday, July 7:  The Illinois "Santa Claus and Scrooge" budget

Tuesday, June 30:  Governor asked to veto tax donations to churches, parochial schools

Tuesday, June 16:  Legislature must eliminate tax donations to churches and parochial schools

Thursday, June 11:  Rep. Lou Lang comments on Pork Bill

Tuesday, June 9:  Governor's Office responds regarding Pork Bill

Friday, June 5:  Rep. Jack Franks explains how Pork Bill got approved

Thursday, June 4:  Illinois General Assembly donates your tax dollars to their favorite churches

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