[The Institute on Religion and Democracy] 118 Oct 2008--It sounds like a match made in heaven.
Central Union Mission, which since 1884 has been providing social and spiritual services to Washington, D.C.’s homeless and those battling addictions, needs to relocate by October 2009. The government of the District of Columbia needs to utilize successfully its Homeless No More initiative as well as spur business and residential development in key areas of the city. So the District government is giving Central Union Mission the Gales School, a historic school building near Union Station. In exchange, the mission is giving the District three adjacent parcels of land on Georgia Avenue and Newton Place, a key area of the city. A win-win situation?
Enter opponents waving the banner emblazoned with “separation of church and state” to forbid the planned agreement between the D.C. government and Central Union Mission. They are suing the District government to stop the transaction and deprive the mission of the property. The attorneys are the usual suspects, the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
Somewhat startling, but not really surprising, is the identity of the lawsuit’s head plaintiff. Topping the list of eight plaintiffs is the bishop of the Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., the Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane. Chane, a Bostonian a’ la M.A.S.H.’s Charles Emerson Winchester III, leads a cast of characters who could cheer the heart of any community organizer. One plaintiff, a leftist biology professor named David Schwartzman, is currently a candidate for DC Statehood Green Party. Another, Joseph M. Palachios, is a priest who teaches sociology and champions liberation theology. All are united in their objection to Central Union Mission’s and the District government’s properties swap because in their eyes it is “the use of public funds to support the propagation” of religious faith.