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updated: 7/5/2011 1:51 PM

Pastors protest Illinois cut to burials for poor

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  • Military pallbearers carry the casket of U.S. Army Specialist Richard C. "Richie" Emmons III into Lawnside Cemetery in Woodstown, N.J., Saturday, June 11, 2011. Emmons died from shrapnel wounds received when his unit came under attack by enemy forces in Logar Province, Afghanistan on May 31, 2011. Emmons was raised in the Woodstown area until age 14 when he moved with his family to North Granby, Conn. Services and burial were held in Woodstown Saturday. Hundreds turned out to pay their respects to Emmons.

      Military pallbearers carry the casket of U.S. Army Specialist Richard C. "Richie" Emmons III into Lawnside Cemetery in Woodstown, N.J., Saturday, June 11, 2011. Emmons died from shrapnel wounds received when his unit came under attack by enemy forces in Logar Province, Afghanistan on May 31, 2011. Emmons was raised in the Woodstown area until age 14 when he moved with his family to North Granby, Conn. Services and burial were held in Woodstown Saturday. Hundreds turned out to pay their respects to Emmons.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- A group of Chicago pastors is protesting cuts to a $15 million state program that pays for funerals and burials for the poor.

Pastors United for Change says the program pays funeral homes and cemeteries when families on public aid can't afford the cost.

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The Rev. Roosevelt Watkins of Bethlehem Star Church says Gov. Pat Quinn should use discretionary money to help fund the program.

The Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church predicts "a national embarrassment" if bodies pile up "in President Barack Obama's home state."

Cook County pays for the mass burial of unclaimed bodies. But the pastors say the county doesn't pay for funerals and can't afford to pay for any more burials.

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