Saturday, May 30, 2009

Government Attacking Catholic Church Again?

I am alarmed to hear the Diocese of Bridgeport was forced to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court to protect their First Amendment rights due to actions by the Office of State Ethics. It seems ironic that the Roman Catholic Church and many other faith communities in Connecticut were fighting S.B. 1098 - a misguided bill that was clearly a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution – and are now subject to lobbying laws in Connecticut.

I understand the lobbying laws in Connecticut are designed to carefully monitor professional lobbying activities – not the casual visitor to the State Capitol. Many organizations visit the Capitol to express their views on legislation but have no registered lobbyists. Is the Office of State Ethics suggesting organizers of every rally at the Capitol should register as a lobbyist?

I don’t see the connection of applying restrictions to a church organization using a website to communicate with their members and facilitate contacting their legislators. Once again, I see this activity as a First Amendment right.

I have grave concerns that our ethics statutes may be going too far in direct violation of the First Amendment. I have filed amendments on several bills at the Capitol to address these concerns. Hopefully, fellow legislators will agree that we must preserve church organizations' First Amendment rights and support changes to the lobbying laws.