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Connecticut Seeks to Silence Church. Again!

The state government of Connecticut might just be the epicenter of state sponsored anti-Catholicism in the country right now. The state is seeking to silence the Catholic Church. Again.

Ever since the Church's stance supporting traditional marriage or at least for a conscience clause for religious organizations, many in state government have sought to punish the Church or at least silence it.

If you'll recall a few months ago two Democrat state legislators proposed a bill targeting Catholic parishes by instituting elected boards to oversee parishes. This, of course, caused an outrage as the government had no right to intervene in the Church's affairs.

But, Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner reports that:

The public uproar spurred the bill’s sponsors to withdraw it and cancel the hearing the night before. But the church-sponsored rally went on anyway, making the diocese a renegade lobbyist.

Six weeks after the rally, the Office of State Ethics informed the diocese that it may have violated state law by lobbying without being a registered lobbyist. In a meeting between the bishop and the OSE (Office of State Ethics) the next week, an OSE official said he had enough evidence to file a formal complaint against the diocese. A complaint could trigger multiple fines of $10,000 or more....

State law defines lobbying as “communicating directly or soliciting others to communicate with any official or his staff in the legislative or executive branch of government or in a quasi-public agency, for the purpose of influencing any legislative or administrative action. ...”

Anyone who spends more than $2,000 “lobbying” — for instance, renting buses to organize a statehouse rally against an unconstitutional assault on one’s liberties — is a “lobbyist,” according to the OSE, and must register as a lobbyist.

So let's just boil all this down. Two idiotic Connecticut lawmakers try to pass a law taking all the power of parishes away from the Church and forcibly hand it over to an elected board. And the Church responds by asking Catholics to stand up against this blatant anti-Catholic power grab only to have the state declare that the Church engaged in unauthorized lobbying which violates state ethics laws.

And as Carney points out, pinning the lobbyist tag on the Church is a big deal.
Registering to lobby is no small matter of filling out a form and paying a fee. Registered lobbyists must, thrice a year plus once a month while the legislature is in session, file detailed reports on all their activities and expenditures related to lobbying. They are also required, whenever lobbying, to wear a badge identifying themselves as lobbyists.
So Carney asked if priests would be forced to wear a badge identifying them if they were going to speak about abortion in a sermon. The government had no response.

Hmmm. This kinda' reminds me of something else though. The government forcing certain people of a religious persuasion to wear a badge of some sort to single them out. Hmmm...Ringing any bells for anyone else?

But thankfully the diocese isn't sitting still.

The diocese recently announced that they're suing in federal court to block the state from enforcing the lobbying laws against it.

Bishop Lori has a statement up on their website:
In United States District Court today, attorneys representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport filed a lawsuit against officials of the State of Connecticut Office of State Ethics (OSE), seeking a court order to stop them from an unconstitutional application of state lobbying laws.

These officials are requiring the Diocese – and presumably all other organizations – to register as a lobbyist in order to engage in activities such as a rally at the State Capitol or using its website to encourage its members to contact their elected representatives. Application of the law in this manner would subject the First Amendment rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Assembly to government oversight and penalties.

Bishop William E. Lori stated today, "Following the surprise introduction of
Bill 1098, a proposal that singled out Catholic parishes and would have forced them to reorganize contrary to Church law and the First Amendment, our Diocese responded in the most natural, spontaneous, and frankly, American, of ways: we alerted our membership – in person and through our website; we encouraged them to exercise their free speech by contacting their elected representatives; and, we organized a rally at the State Capitol. How can this possibly be called lobbying?"

"This cannot possibly be what our Legislature had in mind when it sought to bring more transparency and oversight to a legislative process that has been corrupted by special interests and back-room deals. If it is, then it should shock the conscience of all citizens of the Constitution State," Bishop Lori added.

For those inclined to the legalese, check out the website.

So for all those keeping score at home, the government is pushing even more chips on the table and they're betting you're not paying attention. The Catholic Church must win this battle or many other state governments will use similar lobbying rules as a lever to silence the Church. Make no mistake. If the state is successful here, this will be repeated nationwide.

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catholicgirl40 said...

So I may not have seen the KKK=pro-life movement connection (because there isn't one), but I do see this one- KKK=Natzis=Connecticut/the future of our country.
How long has the government attempted to silence not just Catholics, but all Christians?
I guess part of this attempt is a good thing because the devil is sure trying hard to stop us some how, meaning that we are doing something right and good.

Anonymous said...

in America, there exists Constitutioanlly protected and guaranteed "freedomn of speech" for EVERYONE! and that includes Christians and Cathoilics . .and one is ALWAYS free to speak to and address whatever topic to whomever . . .those in the State Of Connecticut who are attempting to hijack the legal levers to limit or impede or deny the constitutionally assured "freedom of speech" to Catholics and to the congregation of catholics, ought to be charged with conspiarcy to deny believeing Catholics this right of free and unimpeded speech . and also with a "hate crime", because it is specifically targeting Catholics and Their Church . . . stop these "Hitlerites" early before "the blob" grows . . .

michael g. batcho

Todd said...

On the other hand, there was significant financial wrongdoing in a few high-profile cases. Do Catholics have a right to demand accountability from their clergy and bishops? And if the Church doesn't provide it, why shouldn't the laity turn to the legal or legislative process to insist?

The original legislation was supported in part by Catholics who wanted accountability.

Anonymous said...

Yet the state of CT didn't level the same charges against the ACORN affiliated organizations months back who actually did hire buses to bring people in to protest at the houses of people who worked for banks, investment, mortgage companies.. curious.

Anonymous said...

Pray the Rosary!We are under attack.Padre Pio said that the Rosary is the weapon against evil.This smacks of evil!

nightfly said...

This is outrageous. Not only does the First Amendment guarantee the right to freedom of speech, it also guarantees the right "to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Connecticut can cram it with walnuts.

Anonymous said...

Bear in mind that the two "wacko" legislators also said that they were in touch with the Obama administration who were watching the isssue closely.

People keep sticking their head in the sand that the Feds aren't behind this and that Obama loves his Catholics. Yeah, just like "Massa loves his li'l chil'n workin' in da fields."

Anonymous said...

How this country has changed under Obama!! He said it would and it certainly did. By the time he and those empowered by him are through, this country will be unrecognizable. No more freedoms, no more patriotism, no more rich people, maximum population control through abortions and contraception, perhaps forced sterilizations of undesireables, who knows what else. Don't believe it? Just wait.

Annaberri said...

To Todd,
Some Catholics apparently introduced this, but they must not be very well educated Catholics. The Catholic Church is a worldwide church. It does not fall under US laws the way some other entities do. If the laity want a say, they do actually have one. I don't know any bishops/archbishops who would not listen to people if they wanted to be heard. But the laity is not in charge of the Church. There is a hierarchy for a reason. Yes, bad mistakes were made, and it's a mess, but putting laity above the hierarchy is going to make it worse, and strips the Church of its right to several things, both religious and American. Can't you see the implications for everyone? The Catholic Church is not a democracy, and I for one never want it to be.

Anonymous said...

I feel like we're seeing the claws of Communism entering American soil.

Leticia said...

Todd, after the priestly homosexual scandal, we realized that if the hierarchy were more financially accountable to the laity, much harm could have been avoided, however, that is no excuse for feeding our Church to the forces which seek to destroy it.

Rita said...

Wow, some pretty hilarious stuff written in the comment section. For instance, Connecticut is now the KKK and we might all become sterilized under the Obama administration. Give me a break.
For being a Catholic blog, this site tends to spread hate and anger more than love and compassion. Love everyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, and political bias.

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