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The Bridgeport Diocese has stepped way over the line

by: Sue

Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 16:32:38 PM EDT

I sent a letter to the Bridgeport Diocese informing them that they will no longer receive my weekly check - unless it goes directly to my church's upkeep.
Sue :: The Bridgeport Diocese has stepped way over the line
This site provides information to churches on how not to go over the line. Bishop Lori has put my church in a very awkward position by making an unconscionable political statement.

William E. Lori, who joined his brother bishops in a statement from the Connecticut Catholic Conference

BRIDGEPORT - The October 10 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court to allow same-sex
"marriage" has outraged Catholics across the state.

The traditional definition of marriage as a sacred union, before God, of one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation has now been changed by the vote of just four judges.

Vote for Constitutional Convention

This undemocratic fiat has heightened calls for Catholics to vote "Yes" for a Constitutional Convention, an issue on the ballot on Election Day, November 4. This could enable the right of referendum in our state, which would allow the issue of same-sex "marriage" to be put to the people to decide, as will happen next month in California. "The Supreme Court decision - a raw exercise of judicial power - is a major wake-up call," says Bishop William E. Lori, who joined his brother bishops in a statement from the Connecticut Catholic Conference. "If ever we needed another reminder of the vital importance of electing legislators who share our Catholic values, this is it. Every Catholic is obliged to educate his or her conscience on the issues connected to our Catholic faith before making an informed choice on Election Day."

How can my church possibly continue to maintain their tax exempt status? And more important, what gives them the authority  to embarrass Catholics with this right-wing nonsense?

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If the extremists win (4.00 / 2)
and we end up with government by referendum, the FIRST thing we should do is hold a referendum to take away the tax exempt status of the churches.

What's the chances of this passing? (0.00 / 0)

Anyone know if there's polling? I'm really nervous a lot of people will just see "Constitution" and vote yes. I haven't heard any advertisements, though I'm on the email list for ctvoteno.org and an update from them indicates they're making a media buy:



ROCKY HILL - The VOTE NO coalition, formed in June to oppose the constitutional convention question (#1 on this November's ballot), have announced a statewide media effort. The media campaign includes broadcast television, cable television and radio.

The VOTE NO campaign has been endorsed by 45 organizations, nearly 900 individuals, and 70 clergy. In addition, the four state constitutional officers and the League of Women Voters have urged the public to vote no on question #1.

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." - Warren Buffet

I can't find any polling results (0.00 / 0)
The Catholic Churches are pushing it hard; my mother said her priest was on about it from the pulpit last Sunday.  Catholics are in the neighborhood of 46% of the population in CT.  

I did see the Vote No commercial on channel 8; it was pretty good.  Is FIC running commercials, or are they spending all their money on Peter Wolfgang's salary?

[ Parent ]
Recent E-Mail I Received Today (0.00 / 0)
Not sure where it started, but should end in loss of tax exemption if any religious official sends along in that capacity or uses church resources to send - we can only hope!

Massive Chain E-Mail_Vote YES to Question 1 on Nov. 4th Election ballot in CT

Dear Citizen of Connecticut,

The recent 4-3, non-democratic CT Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex 'marriage' in our state by bypassing the will of the people in CT.  By voting 'YES' to question 1, on the November 4th election ballot, you are telling the CT state legislature that the CT supreme court does not speak for you as a citizen, and that the vote should be taken to ALL of the people of CT to decide what defines Marriage in our state.  (Conversely, by voting NO, you are denying yourself, and CT citizens, the right to vote on this very important issue of what defines a Marriage).

It's important to note, that if we fail to Reverse this CT supreme court decision on Nov. 4th, by not getting the word out to enough people (who merely think this is only about 'tolerance'), several things will happen in CT soon (as have already been seen in the states of MA and CA, where same-sex 'marriage' is already legal):
1. The sacred institution of Marriage (created and defined by God in Genesis 2:24) will permanently be re-defined for the FIRST time in human history. This will not only change the very definition of what constitutes a family in our schools, but it will also open the slippery slope door for: poligamous marriage, transexual marriage, incestual union marriage, etc, etc.  If you re-define the family, you will destroy the family as we know it today (and throughout history).
2. Loss of parental rights, to prevent your children from being taught the same-sex marriage/lifestyle as 'normal', right along with traditional marriage, from Kindergarten on up.  This has already happened in Massachusetts where children are given books teaching about same-sex marriage as a normal life-style, as early as Kindergarten.  Two MA parents then asked their school system to notify them, and allow their Kindergarten child to 'opt-out' of such lessons, and was denied.  So much so, that the father was hand-cuffed and put in jail over-night because he refused to have his parental rights denied by the school! This just happened this past year in America (not Communist China)!
3. Closing of churches who refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
4. Lawsuits coming to priests and ministers for their 'hate' speech because they teach that same-sex marriage is NOT marriage at all (which they must & have for 2,000+ years)
5. Closing Organizations (like Catholic Charities in Boston, MA) who refuse to give adopted children to same-sex couples, because of their long-held beliefs of what constitutes a marriage & a family, as defined by God, not us.
6. Massive costs to CT tax-payers who will have to pay for all of these lawsuits that the gay movement has already brought to MA and CA, and will bring to CT, in such instances.
7. General in-tolerance of a 2,000+ year old Christian belief system and institutions, if they don't recognize these 'new laws', but instead uphold the law of God, which is their duty and has always been so.

Most CT citizens only think this is about tolerance for gay people and equal rights (which no one contests).  It is far more than that.  It's about re-defining the fundamental unit in society (the family) and how to define the fundamental UNION of society (Marriage).  It also is about an all-out attack on a definition of Marriage that has existed since the beginning of time, and the Institutions that will continue to defend it.

Please forward this e-mail along to every CT parent, person, parish, Church, organization, etc,  you know who would want to read this.  And, remember, to vote YES on Question 1 of the Nov. 4th Election ballot in just a few weeks.

And lets hope that the Governor, Legislature, Courts, and Constitution never believe or have to "uphold the law of God, which is their duty and has always been so."

because Connecticut voters count: http://www.CTVotersCount.org

use of email for church issue advocacy (0.00 / 0)
An interesting side effect of email is that it makes it possible to advocate without spending money on stamps or incurring an expense.

A chain email starts with a group of believers and uses a viral approach to reaching others.  Thus, one mailing list morphs easily into the personal mailing lists of the recipients.  If th email list did not use the BCC method, essentially all email addresses of recipients become public knowledge without anyone paying a fee for them, including any candidate whose name may be on the list.  Clearly we need rules specific to email to deal with the IRS measuring sticks for lobbying, and for member privacy considerations.

[ Parent ]
Law against candidate advocacy; issue advocacy okay (0.00 / 0)
Hmmm, just pondering this -- agree that the letter would seem to be rallying group support for an activity (convention) that would enable other activities (attempt to ban gay marriage via constitutional amendment). So the church is throwing itself not really so much into moral persuasion of parishioners, but is moving its activities into purely political tactics -- a convention -- in order to push for legislative/constitutional resolution to stuff they don't agree with. resulting from the tactics.

After poking around in search engines on a topic on which I am not well versed, here's what I find:  Unless it can be argued that the issue advocacy is a sort of pointing people at a particular candidate, then issue advocacy appears to be legal.  Specific statements about candidates are apparently what land the churches in hot water (with the IRS).  

However, I agree that here the church is not simply making its opinion known, it is throwing itself into particular activism and involvement in the political means to change how EVERYONE must act.  Just as the Catholic hospitals that wouldn't provide emergency contraception to rape victims were forcing their point of view on patients and doctors who did not share them, the advocacy here goes beyond "we are providing moral guidance to our parishioners" to "we intend to fashion a world after our own ideas and beliefs, using the political process to do force others who do not share our beliefs to abide by them anyway."  

Federal tax law prohibits all 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns. According to the Internal Revenue Code, they may not "participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or opposition to any candidate for public office." The prohibition has been interpreted very broadly in order to prevent charities from using tax-deductible contributions for electioneering, which would result in a taxpayer subsidy for campaigns.

Here is an article from an AZ newspaper that seems to clarify that issue are okay; candidate advocacy is out.
Here is a document from the Catholic Conference of Illinois explaining to churches what they say is legit and illegal.

Wondering? (0.00 / 0)
After poking around in search engines on a topic on which I am not well versed, here's what I find:  Unless it can be argued that the issue advocacy is a sort of pointing people at a particular candidate, then issue advocacy appears to be legal.  Specific statements about candidates are apparently what land the churches in hot water (with the IRS).

I'm not well versed in this either (or versed at all, actually), but I wonder: Isn't advocating a particular vote on a specific ballot question logically more similar to campaigning for a specific candidate than it is to "issue advocacy" or "moral guidance"? Isn't "Yes on ConCon" virtually equivalent to a candidate?

I know what counts is the letter of the law, but urging parishioners to cast a specific vote in a specific election strikes me as, at best, violating the spirit of a law that "prohibits all 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns."

Whassup wi' dat?

[ Parent ]
"Insubstantial" amount of lobbying activity (0.00 / 0)
Okay, I've done a little more searching and found the party that refers to referenda, where church involvement is considered lobbying activity.  

Here is a church-based legal opinion on what the current law does/doesn't allow:

Church involvement in ballot initiatives is classified as lobbying activity. Tres. Reg. §
1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(ii). Churches and synagogues can engage in an "insubstantial"
amount of lobbying activity. 26 U.S.C. § 503(c)(3). At this point, neither the Internal Revenue Code nor IRS regulations define what "insubstantial" means. Several court rulings, however, indicate that between 5% and 15% of a church's total activities isconsidered insubstantial. See, Haswell v. U.S., 500 F.2d 1133 (Ct. Cl. 1974) (16% to 20% of total budget considered too much); Seasongood v. Comm'r, 227 F.2d 907 (6th Cir. 1955) (less than 5% considered acceptable); and World Family Corporation v. Comm'r, 81 T.C. 958 (1983) (5% to 15% of groups resources considered insubstantial).

Importantly, the "substantial part" test is calculated using a church's overall activities, not by focusing on single events or issues. So it's entirely permissible for churches to devote a significant amount of time to lobbying during part of the year while doing little or no lobbying throughout the remainder of the year.  Obviously church members are in a good position to observe the extent to which lobbying related activities are taking place.  

Here is a discussion of nonprofit lobbying efforts and legal restrictions from a nonprofit law blog.  The link lays out a legal opinion on guidelines for nonprofit foundations engaged in lobbying.  There are places noted where rules for churches do vary from foundations, but much overlaps, apparently.

Another avenue to pursue would be the whether the church/es actions define them as lobbyists under state law.  If so they are required to register with the Secretary of State as lobbyists.  What is not clear to me is whether pushing for a constitutional convention is lobbying, even though it is clearly thrusting the church into the realm of advocating specific political tactics.  SEEC would be the logical place to clarify requirements for lobbyist registration, or to file a complaint if lobbying activity was being carried out by nonregistered groups or individuals.  To clarify the rules and find out how to file a complaint, you might contact the State Election Enforcement Commission.  As I write this, the state's websites appear to be down.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for doing this research (0.00 / 0)
In the unlikely event that we end up with a new constitution that allows initiatives, we could:
- Call for a vote to eliminate any tax-exempt campaigning for initiatives
- Call to eliminate tax exemptions for religious organizations. "faith welfare"

In the unfortunate (but quite possible) event we end up with a constitutional convention, we can push for:
- elimination of marriage as a civil entity
- the right to civil unions for all
- elimination of mention of deities from the constitution
- the right to health care for all
- the right to vote

because Connecticut voters count: http://www.CTVotersCount.org

[ Parent ]
Why not add equal rights for women? (0.00 / 0)
Are women defined as equal under CT constitution?

[ Parent ]
Yup (0.00 / 0)
There are a lot of great things we can propose.

- If it passes,
- Dem legislature has great influence on delegates
- So Constitution proposed won't have initiative
- Proposed Constitution may or may not pass, depending

Bottom Line:
- Right Wing won't get what they claim to want
- Their leaders must know that now
- The will get red meat issue to beat on Legislature for next few years.

because Connecticut voters count: http://www.CTVotersCount.org

[ Parent ]
The FIC 'splains it all (4.00 / 2)
They've got instructions for churches on how to circumvent the laws on their site:

We need to completely rethink tax exempt status for churches.  

[ Parent ]
Right to privacy of parishioners (0.00 / 0)
Good find, Chele.  Never thought to look there!  The guidelines/loopholes document appears to be written for a national audience and does not cover state laws on lobbying, so I do consider that an avenue worth pursuing and clarifying.  

There is a list in one of the FIC website's documents which says that Churches may rent to candidates mailing lists of parishioners at the market rate, but not at a discount rate.

Wow.  Who knew.  I certainly would not want my membership in a church to become public knowledge via a rented member  list.  Do members of churches have the opportunity to opt out and demand their privacy?  What about members who are protected by protection orders?  

All the documents I posted and FIC's as well can be seen as generic "legal opinions," and court cases are made when someone arguing a different interpretation of the law presses a complaint and gets it heard before a judge.

Basically, I think Sue has the right idea -- the easiest way to object to church involvement is by withholding tithing and redirecting it to a group that is not lobbying, but is doing what the donor REALLY want done with his/her contributions to the church.

Considering the economic straits of this country, I think it is a distraction and a misdirection of (limited?) resources of time, energy and money to push this agenda at this moment in time.  I am sure that those who are vehement about this issue and live to fight it another day would disagree, but we ain't seen nothing yet - the fun is just beginning in our economy.

[ Parent ]
Know thy enemy (0.00 / 0)
Distasteful as they are, it pays to keep up with what these people are doing.  

I find FIC and other groups like them truly abhorrent.  It isn't just the joyless hate they spread, but rather that they mislead and pervert honest, good people of faith -- for a political rather than religious agenda.  

At times I wonder if they even have a real political agenda.   It's about the money.  These groups are money-making machines.  They're constantly on the lookout for new issues to stir up the masses (pun intended).  If it's not abortion, it's gay marriage.  If it's not birth control, it's sex education.  If it's not abstinence, it's a war on Christianity.  Private school, parochial school, home school.   Billboards that advertise "intimate" things.  All of which keep the faithful fearful and martyred, and keep dollars of the faithful flowing in to support ... what?   Trying to force cashiers at the mall to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays?"   Putting Peter Wolfgang in your bedroom?  Well, maybe not that, dear God no! -- but certainly making him a comfortable living.

CT is the minor leagues for these guys.  Peter can aspire to go national, like his former partner Brian Brown, who ran off with that big hypocrite Maggie Gallagher.  Their organization, NOM (NOM NOM NOM for let us eat your money) sends emails to their followers every two or three days, ramping them up over stolen lawn signs.  He's got a video that seems to have a bogus YouTube logo on it, showing how people spray painted Prop 8 lawn signs and decrying widespread vandalism.  

Recently, Brian began a letter with, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," counting his chickens before they're hatched.  He then tried to sell Maggie's book, requested five bucks, and signed off, "Yours in Christ."  

Napalm and Christ, together at last, thanks to those family values folks.


[ Parent ]
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