Monday, June 1, 2009

Connecticut Government at it Again

Many of you likely followed the story a few months ago from Connecticut where the CT legislature was forced to back down after an attempt to intervene within the financial and power structure of the Catholic Church, apparently in retaliation for Catholic opposition to same sex marriage.

Public outcry over the blatant First Amendment violation and growing opposition in the state senate forced the bigots in the CT House to table the bill with little hope of bringing it back for further consideration (at least in this term.)

The bigots, however, have not gotten enough.  They're still seeking retaliation against the One True Church.  Now, the Office of State Ethics (OSE) is investigating the Church, accusing it of ethics violations for failing to file the appropriate forms for being... get this... a lobbying group.  Apparently, if you ask people to contact their legislature about bills that not only specifically pertain to your membership but mention your organization by name, you are "a lobbying group."

According to Catholic News Service, Bishop of Bridgeport William E. Lori asked:

"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?"

In a letter to the faithful, he wrote:

'Lobbying'? Exhortations from the pulpit, information posted to the world wide web, a rally in the middle of the day on the State’s most public piece of property? This cannot possibly be what our Legislature had in mind when it enacted lobbying laws to bring more transparency and oversight to a legislative process that has been corrupted by special interests and backroom deals.

“Let’s be clear: we violated no law.”

Americans of all faith backgrounds should decry this absurd violation of our First Amendment rights.  For the legislature to have first attempted to violate the establishment clause by intervening in the structure of the Catholic Church, and then to jump in and seek to discipline the Church when Catholics exercised their rights to free speech and assembly is against everything the United States is supposed to represent.  Even pro-gay-marriage atheists should be united with Catholics here in defense of our Constitutional liberties.  People of all political and religious perspectives must stand together in favor of our right to have our beliefs, free from government attack.

The Archdiocese of Bridgeport is now filing suits in the Federal District Court against OSE Ethics Enforcement Officer, Thomas Jones, and against the OSE's Executive Director, Carol Carson.  They are asking that the Court bar the OSE from applying these lobbying regulations to the Church, allowing it to continue to provide its religious and social services without intimidation.  Without such a prohibition, the Church and all its agents would have to operate in fear of financial punishments and even criminal prosecution.

The Diocese of Bridgeport has its comments here.

It's a sad time to be an American, folks.  Hopefully the necessary groundswell against the Democratic Party's current onslaught against all that America has stood for will develop, and quickly... and hopefully that will bring some change to our government.  It's sad that the neoconservatives are comparatively a beacon of civil liberties and free enterprise.

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