A Chicago-based library’s Board of Trustees has rejected an atheist’s money because they say he represents a “hate group.”
The Morton Grove Library voted 5 to 2 last week to not accept “Friendly Atheist” blogger Hemant Mehta’s $3,000 donation because of a “F—k God” comment on his Facebook page.
The donation was made to support Park Board member Dan Ashta’s decision to not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The American Legion Post 134 decided to withhold its $2,600 in funding until all Park Board members stood for the pledge. Mehta raised the money as a thank you to Ashta for “protecting the First Amendment and advocating a separation of church and state,” according to the Morton Grove Champion.
But the Park Board returned the check because they did not want to get involved in a political or religious debate.
Board Trustee Arthur Goldstein was one of the two in favor of accepting the money.
“Why would we turn down a check that we could use in any way we want?” Goldstein asked. “There are no conditions or stipulations.”
“People gave money to the park district, not the library,” Trustee Barbara Novick said in regards to why she voted against accepting the money. “Sure I wanted the money, but I don’t know if it would be ethical to accept money that wasn’t intended for us to begin with.”
Board member Cathy Peters had a different reason for voting against accepting the money.
“Would you take money from the Klan?” she asked, adding that Hemant was part of a “hate group.”
Mehta said he’s “frustrated over how difficult giving $3,000 away could be,” and said the library trustees were only making excuses.
“I get 2,000 comments a day and don’t always look through all of them,” Mehta said. “Anyone who operates a forum understands that. I stand by my own posts, but them being bothered by random comments is a weak argument.”