The state of Pennsylvania is unconstitutionally funding Christian symbols on a Catholic campus. Tell the state's Department of Transportation that it must not contribute taxpayer funds for the construction of an overtly Christian bridge on the campus of Villanova University.
The pedestrian bridge will reportedly include four large, metal Latin crosses atop stone pillars. As FFRF has pointed out in a press release, the religious significance of the Latin cross is unambiguous and indisputable. Public dollars must not be used to endorse Christianity.
Click here to email the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation asking it to not use taxpayer money to fund a project that endorses Christianity.
Click here to call the department's executive office secretary using our simple automated system. We encourage you to add your own thoughts to personalize the message. This will make your message more effective in swaying public policy.
(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about the proposed project.)
A number of local taxpayers contacted FFRF to report on this violation between the separation between church and state. FFRF has asked the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to reconsider the misguided funding decision and take immediate action either to remove the crosses from the proposed bridge or withdraw the department's offer to fund the project.
"It is illegal for the Department of Transportation to use public funds to construct permanent Latin crosses, even if part of a larger secular project," FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne wrote to Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards. "The Establishment Clause strictly prohibits the government from advancing religion. The Supreme Court has struck down grants to religious schools, even when the funds will not be used to advance religion directly. Providing the funding to erect prominent Christian symbols directly advances Villanova's religious mission."
Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits the government from using taxpayer funds to advance religion, or from giving preference to any religion. Erecting prominent Latin crosses atop stone pillars on a bridge serves no purpose other than to advance Christianity. Pennsylvania taxpayers have a right not to be compelled to fund such a project. To FFRF's knowledge, the state Department of Transportation has never used taxpayer funds to construct permanent religious symbols representing Islam, Hinduism, Satanism, or any other minority faith, nor should it.
"There is a disturbing indulgence toward Catholicism taking place based on the fact that the bridge is located on a Catholic campus," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "But non-Catholic taxpayers may not be forced to subsidize such a bridge. We are not a Christian nation; we live under a secular Constitution."
Feel free to utilize the talking points below in your email, or cut and paste this message:
As a taxpaying resident of Pennsylvania and freethinker, I urge the Department of Transportation not to use taxpayer dollars to construct an overtly Christian bridge on the campus of Villanova University. The bridge will reportedly include four large, metal Latin crosses atop stone pillars. The crosses should either be removed from the proposed bridge or the department must withdraw funding from the project. Using public dollars to endorse Christianity is a violation of the constitutional principle of separation between church and state.