September 27, 2012

Freedom From Religion Foundation Saves Tucson $1.1 Million

TucsonFor a city the size of Tucson, AZ, $1.1 million may not seem like a large sum. But think of the difference that kind of money could make for all sorts of useful purposes. Thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), the city of Tucson just saved $1.1 million they were planning to send on repairing a building owned by the Catholic Church.

After attorneys for the FFRF explained to the Mayor of Tucson that the city should not spend taxpayer money to repair a religious building they did not own, the city council agreed and decided not to hand over the $1.1 million.

One could be forgiven for assuming that Tucson's conservative Republicans would be particularly enthusiastic in praising such a significant savings to local taxpayers. But something tells me that this probably isn't their reaction. In fact, I'd guess that the most vocal opponents of this decision are conservative Republicans.

But that is not why I decided to share this story. I think there is an important lesson here for all of us, one that FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor summed up perfectly when she said:
It pays to complain, or rather in this case, our complaint stops an unconstitutional payment.
Indeed, it can pay to complain. Not every complaint will result in this sort of action, but it is tough to assess that in advance. Those of us who are truly interested in preserving the separation of church and state should remember that complaints can go a long way toward correcting violations.