• Pope Visit Cheated Philadelphia Out of Millions

    pope securityBefore the Pope came to Philadelphia, Newsworks.org (the website for the local WHYY, NPR station) did an interview with me and a few other atheists about his visit. I told them that my main concern and the main concern of many other atheists was that the Pope visit was going to effectively shut down the city. But I also said that we weren’t worried about the public cost of the event because there have been assurances that the World Meeting of Families (i.e. the Catholic Church) was going to be covering “all costs” associated with the Pope’s visit. But now, the Mayor is saying that “all costs” really means “slightly more than half the cost.”

    According to The Morning Call, the city of Philadelphia laid out roughly $17 million for the Pope’s visit. But now the city is only asking for $8 million. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it. I expect the World Meeting of Families to pay in full. They owe the city $17 million. Philadelphia is suffering from all kinds of economic problems including school funding.

    Apparently, the Mayor doesn’t believe that the World Meeting of Families organization should pay for the massive police and fire department presence. This included overtime pay. For those not in the Philadelphia region, I should point out that just prior to the Pope’s visit, the city went into a state of near shutdown. Some train stations were closed, bus routes and schedules were altered, and certain parts of the city were also shut down including some city offices. Even in the suburbs, there were problems with people getting to work due to public transportation changes and closures. During the Pope’s visit, train passes were also extremely limited and this impacted people’s ability to get to work too. Even when the President comes to town, we don’t have that level of disruption. Still, I get it. He’s the Pope and it is kind of a big deal. But we were told that the City would not be paying for it and that no tax dollars would go toward the visit. We were lied to!

    It isn’t like the Vatican doesn’t have the money. They could and should easily pay the $17 million. Do you know what isn’t good for families? Forcing the City to pay for their Pope out of the pockets of public education. The truth is that the World Meeting of Families doesn’t give a damn about children or families. They just care about pushing the Catholic religion. It is bad enough that they don’t have to actually pay taxes, but now they are taking our taxes away from the City and families who need it. It is immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional.

    Category: AtheismCatholicfeaturedPopesecularsecularismSeparation of Church and State

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

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    5 comments

    1. You are right about taxpayer funding of religious events, but this is not the only instance of unconstitutional government support of religion. Tax exemptions for churches and tax deductions for contributors to churches are both taxpayer-funded support for religion.
      I wrote an article about this a few years ago titled “Should Churches Be Tax Exempt?”.
      Here is the link.
      http://bigelowbert.com/?p=621

    2. If you’re expecting the rcc to pay for this, don’t hold your breath. We’re still waiting here in the UK for them to pay up for his visit and that was several years ago.

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