Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Solution in Search of a Problem?

This day at the Capitol is memorable for this senator and I hear for many veteran Capitol watchers – some who’ve been here over sixty years! I’ve met people of faith from a high school senior girl to a WWII veteran in his mid-eighties, all of whom had a glow on their faces. The experience today was of faithful embracing our democracy and celebrating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Thousands of Catholics and defenders of religious freedom arrived at the Capitol this morning and the atrium of the Legislative Office Building was buzzing with excitement. The group moved to the Capitol lawn for a rally with prayers, song and speeches from Catholic Church leaders. The bishops of Connecticut offered their prayers and wisdom followed by religious freedoms history lessons Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus and Monsignor Stephen DiGiovanni of Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Stamford.

The history lessons reminded us of the persecution of Catholics in our state and how religious freedoms developed here slowly. Connecticut adopted existing religious corporate governance laws to reverse the inequality afforded the Catholic faith.

I still get chills thinking about thousands of faithful singing America the Beautiful and God Bless America! I think we sort of floated a few feet above the Capitol lawn at the conclusion of the rally.

Off to the Legislative Republicans’ Informational Forum (hastily arranged after the Judiciary Committee co-chairs cancelled the real public hearing on SB1098) where expert witnesses opened the discussion with fascinating descriptions of SB1098 being “a solution in search of a problem.” Attorney Michael Shea, an expert on Connecticut’s existing religious corporation statutes, clearly stated the laws governing the Connecticut Roman Catholic Church and other denominations are “constitutional precisely because they respect, and do not interfere with, the internal governance structures of the churches to which they apply.” Exactly.

Senator John McKinney suggested Attorney General Blumenthal could avoid wasting his enormous legal resources on a requested opinion and just read Attorney Shea’s brief. As you read earlier in this blog, Blumenthal is questioning the constitutionality of existing state statutes in effect for fifty to one-hundred-forty-three years! Hopefully, A.G. Blumenthal will let his 300 lawyers work on something else and defer to an expert here – just read the Shea brief. Case closed!

I am headed back to the forum where people across the great state of Connecticut are sharing their wisdom about religious freedoms. Some have said this is a gray day at the Capitol. On the contrary, I think the faithful have shed bright light on the darkness brought on by Senator McDonald and Representative Lawlor.