Cohasset: Controversial proposal allocates Community Preservation money for church renovation

Cohasset Selectmen heard a presentation Tuesday night, regarding a controversial town meeting article that calls for the use of $65,000 in Community Preservation funds, to replace 33 windows in the First Parish Unitarian-Universalist Church.

Cohasset resident Howie Altholtz spoke out against the proposal, citing the separation of church and state.

“You have the First Amendment and then the Massachusetts Constitutional Prohibition, which is called the Anti-Aid Amendment, which is very, very strict. Jefferson called it ‘the Wall of Separation’ and John Kennedy, in 1960, referred to it as being ‘absolute’.” The purpose is to protect religion and keeps government out of it and protects freedom of conscience, so that government doesn’t promote religion. It keeps the government out of religious affairs and keeps religious institutions out of the taxpayers pocketbooks”, Altholtz said.

However, Community Preservation Board Chairman Russell Bonetti argued that it wouldn’t be the first time that C.P.A. funds have been used to renovate historic churches.

“The Church of the Presidents in Quincy is not only using town money and state money through the C.P.C., but they’re also using federal money. The National Cathedral is using federal money. In a lot of the cases that have been funded, the money went to projects that had religious symbolism. In Nantucket they just redid stained glass windows that have religious scenes on it. We are just funding plain, old windows”, Bonetti explained.

Bonetti said that Cohasset Town Council has also cleared the proposal.

About John Penny

John Penny is a town news reporter at WATD. He primarily covers stories in the towns of Marshfield, Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell, Hingham, Abington and Quincy.