Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tit for Tat between state of CT and the Diocese of Bridgeport

The bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., says he's a man of God, not a lobbyist. But state officials say he's both.

According to the Connecticut Office of State Ethics, the diocese acted as a lobbying organization in March when it rented buses to transport people to a rally in Hartford — the state capital — to protest a bill that would have granted more power to parishioners regarding church finances.

Officials also are investigating whether the church acted as a lobbying organization on its Web site when it urged parishioners to contact lawmakers about the bill, which eventually was withdrawn amid public outcry, and about a another bill to legalize same-sex marriage, which was signed into law in April.

Bishop Lori appeared on this program to discuss the issue and urge action on it at the time.

Now the ethics office is "evaluating" whether the diocese failed to register as a lobbyist — an investigation that Bishop William Lori says violates the diocese's First Amendment right to free speech and assembly.

"I don't know what the motive of the Office of State Ethics was or is, but I do know that their actions stem directly from our attempts to defend ourselves in the face of two pieces of legislation that were unfriendly to the day-to-day mission of the church," Lori told said today.

One question: Where is the ACLU and their favorite mantra "Separation of Church and State"?

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