Godless in Chicago

Jubilee Market owner refuses to talk about million dollar State grant

Jubilee Market used to be a Christian-themed convenience store, located at 1676 West Ogden Avenue in Chicago, at the northeast corner of Adams (200 South) and Paulina (1700 West).  Ogden runs diagonally through that intersection.  The location is two blocks east of the United Center.

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Jubilee Market. Photo by Rob Sherman.

On May 8th, the store shut down because the owners, Reverends Walter and Mrs. McCray of Black Light Fellowship, ran out of money to operate their Christian convenience store.

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Sign on the front door of the shuttered Jubilee Market Christian-themed convenience store. Photo by Rob Sherman.

On June 30th, the Illinois General Assembly, at Article 9, Section 2605, of the Capital Bill (see page 175 of the 996-page Bill), awarded Jubilee Market a grant of $1,000,000.  One million of your tax dollars for a small, private, Christian-themed convenience store!

Last Friday, Godless in Chicago went to Jubilee Market to investigate why the General Assembly was giving a million of your tax dollars to a Christian-themed 7-Eleven type store. 

The first thing that I noticed about the store was the street sign at the corner of the parking lot.  It says, "Jubilee Market Inc.  Serving you with the care of Christ.  Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.  Acts 16:31."

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The street sign at the corner of the parking lot of Jubilee Market. Photo by Rob Sherman.

Then, as I approached the building, I saw a large sign on the wall that says, "Jubilee Market.  Your Community Convenience Grocery Store.  Serving You with the Care of Christ.  (312) 421-8600."

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Wall sign on the front of the Jubilee Market. Photo by Rob Sherman.

The next thing that I noticed was another large sign, which contained a bible verse.

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Sign with bible verse on the outside front wall of Jubilee Market. Photo by Rob Sherman.

I attempted to enter the store through the front door, but the door was locked.  This was at about 2:30 in the afternoon.  When I looked through the glass front door, I found that the door had been barricaded shut from behind.  However, there was a sign on the front door (see the picture of the front door sign, earlier in this story) with the owners' telephone number on it, so I decided to call the owner from the Godless Sherman-ator and ask him why his store was closed in the middle of the day.

I got an answering machine, so I left a message with my name and phone number, asking for a return phone call.

Then, I went back outside to have another look around.

That's when I noticed how the paint was peeling, badly, on the front wall of the store, making the store look really run down and causing me to wonder what the heck was going on with this place.

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Paint peeling on the front outside wall of Jubilee Market. Photo by Rob Sherman.

I went back to my truck to leave.  That's when the phone rang.  It was Reverend Walter McCray.

I told Rev. McCray who I was, that I wrote the Godless in Chicago blog for ChicagoNow, and that I was investigating why the State was giving Jubilee Market a grant of one million dollars.

"Is the store open?" I asked.

"I am there occasionally," he replied.

"But is the store operating?"

"I ran out of money to operate the store due to the economic downturn."

"What are you going to do with the million dollars?"

"My people said that I'm not allowed to talk about that."

"Well, are you going to build a new place with the money or re-open here, and if you are going to build new, where are you going to build?"

"I'm not allowed to say."

"Who is the legislator who sponsored the line item to give you the million dollars?"

"I'm not allowed to talk about that, either."

"Is this store an extension of your Christian ministry?"

"I'm a reverend.  Everything that I do is an extension of my Christian ministry."

"Thank you for your time, Reverend McCray."

"Is this going to be in the newspaper?"

"It's going to be in Godless in Chicago, which is an on-line blog that can be read at Chicago Now dot com."

As far as Reverend McCray was concerned, it's a secret as to how he is going to spend your tax dollars, and it's also a secret as to who the sponsor was of the line item in the Capital Bill that would give him the money.

That's not acceptable to me, and it shouldn't be acceptable to you.

This million dollar grant to a private Christian ministry grocery store is one of the line items in the Capital Bill that I will be challenging when I file suit, most likely next week, to stop hundreds of donations of your tax dollars to politically connected houses of worship, parochial schools and religious ministries.  The grant to Jubilee Market will be challenged on the grounds that it violates the Illinois Constitution's prohibition against requiring any person to support a ministry against his consent, the prohibition against the State showing a preference to any religious denomination, and the requirement that public funds be used for public purposes.

How do you feel about this?  Let me know by submitting a comment to this story.

Subscribe to Godless in Chicago and receive an automated e-mail each morning, letting you know what new posts I've added during the past 24 hours.

For more about Rob Sherman, visit www.robsherman.com.

I will continue to fight, one victory at a time, to ensure that your tax dollars are spent only for public purposes, even if I am the only one willing to do so and regardless of what forum I am allowed to tell you about it may be.  I need more page views in order to be retained by ChicagoNow, the management of which has treated me very, very well, so if you care about this type of issue, please subscribe to Godless in Chicago and encourage others to visit Godless in Chicago and subscribe.

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8 Comments

lykorian said:

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this is exactly the type of misappropriation of public funds that needs to be brought to light and eliminated. the state would be better off putting that million in a paper bag and lighting it on fire. meanwhile, i need to consider adding "reverend" to my title...

joey said:

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less taxes means more money in our pockets. more money in our pockets means we can decide which organizations deserve our money and which do not. This store makes chik-fil-a look like a pagan ritual.

Fernando Diaz said:

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Rob, you are my hero. This is bullshit! $1 million dollars? I might do some digging around myself. If these jokers are getting $1 million, I wonder who else is getting some.

I know your issue is mostly their "faith-based" "mission" but I'm wondering who the hell else is foregoing selling godly gummy bears and getting our tax dollars for what!?

$1 MILLION!!!!!! Outrageous. Good thing we're not running a deficit. Oh wait...

Scott said:

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Thanks Rob for exposing and challenging yet another example of Religious-Government Greed, Corruption and incompetence. What next, a Tax Payer Paid Christian Casino? America desperately needs more brave citizens like you. Thanks, Scott

nmymnd said:

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As much as I'd like to say this story is hard to believe, I can't. This country has been taking a serious nose dive around religion for quite a while now.

Fausto Fernos said:

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God bless you! ;)

Schaumburg Dan said:

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nice catch - I hope you land and fillet this one!

gr8hands said:

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Their own scriptures say they are to "be innocent as doves" and this reverend is clearly being a hypocrite since he won't tell you the public information about their funding.

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