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-Connecticut vs. Roman Catholic Church

by Dr. D ~ June 2nd, 2009

(State Seal via Wikipedia)

The battle between the State of Connecticut and the Roman Catholic Church started in March with the surprise introduction of a bill in the state Senate that would have reorganized the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in the state. 

Bill #1098 would have mandated a change in the internal structure of local parishes removing priests and bishops from the financial oversight of the church and replacing them with boards of laypeople. Further more, the bill was only directed toward the Roman Catholic Church.

It turns out that he bill was a veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on important issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. The Senators who sponsored it were known to be adamant advocates of same-sex marriage legislation and unhappy with the church for standing against their agenda.

The Church sponsored a rally that was attended by over 4,000 and in addition, tens of thousands of opposing phone calls and emails to the state legislature doomed the bill.

Now Connecticut is Attempting to Fine and Regulate the Church’s Political Involvement

The State responded to the Church involvement in opposing the bill by launching an investigation.

Six week later, the Diocese of Bridgeport received a letter from Connecticut’s Office of State Ethics informing that an investigation was underway to determine if the diocese had violated state law by failing to register as a lobbyist organization. The state complaint could result in a $10,000 fine and even subject the diocese to possible criminal charges.

The church has no intention of registering as a lobbying organization and submitting to state regulations and paying out fees in order to continue their support of certain moral issues and in opposition of others.

In a letter read at all the worship services over the weekend, Bishop Lori stated:

"This new action cannot be seen as anything other than an attempt to muzzle the church and subject our right of free speech to government review and regulation. This government action tramples on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly and religion, and should shock the conscience of all citizens of the Constitution State."

He concluded the letter by calling for church members to contact state legislators this week:

"…to discuss why state lobbying laws, which are designed to protect the integrity of the legislative process and monitor and control backroom manipulation of that process, are now being used to stifle our freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly."

The Church Responds with A Federal Lawsuit

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport filed a federal lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court contending that the actions of the State in requiring them to register as a lobby organization are a direct violation of the church’s constitutional rights.

Response: This is just the beginning. If the State of Connecticut gets away with regulating the involvement of the Catholic church in political issues than there is nothing to stop that state and others from coming after the rest of us and muzzling all Christians, particularly when in comes to issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

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