The YMCA at Illinois University at Urbana-Champaign is paying a hefty price for refusing to cut ties with a group that publicly supports gay marriage.
The Catholic Church gave the YMCA an ultimatum: stop working with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, or lose your $60,000 grant.
The YMCA’s director told WICD-15 that while they take no position on gay marriage, it is important for them to not allow anyone to influence who they work with.
The University Y board met several weeks ago and voted to remain in the coalition.
The University YMCA sponsors programs, organizations and organizations of all kinds. The Y’s director says their partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights allows them to help “hundreds in the community each year.”
The University YMCA plans to launch a campaign to raise money to continue its work with the local immigrant community, according to the News-Gazette. The University Y has received money for immigration work from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development since 2010.
The initial grant was about $4,000 but increased this year to about $60,000. But the Church sent the Y a notice in September: in order to receive the funding, the University Y’s executive director, Mike Doyle, would have to testify that the organization was not involved with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
“It was devastating and threatened to undermine the work we were actually doing,” Doyle told the Gazette.
While the Catholic Church has not issued a statement as of yet, the Illini Secular Student Alliance at the University of Illinois issued a statement Sunday condemning the church’s decision to pull its funding:
“In the recent past, the YMCA has been a huge resource not only for ISSA but for the student body as a whole. Their sponsorship of dozens of blood drives, interfaith meetings, and guest lecturers has been an invaluable asset to our community. We are saddened that the Catholic Church would prioritize its antiquated sense of prejudice over a tangible benefit to the University of Illinois and the demands of social justice.”
The News-Gazette reports that several other organizations around the state received similar notices from the Catholic Church.
Now the YMCA is scrambling to cover the gaping $60,000 deficit its been left with for the fiscal year and is asking the community for donations.
“How long we’ll be able to continue to do that is one of the biggest challenges facing us,” Doyle said. “I hope the community really rallies around and helps replace the funds we lost so [we] can continue to do the work that we’re doing.”
Sources: WICD-15, The News-Gazette