From Fox News:
The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., says he's a man of God, not a lobbyist. But state officials say he's both.According to this article, if an organization spends more than $2000 a year directly contacting (or asking people to directly contact) people in public office and the like, they are a lobby, and must register or pay fines up to $10,000. This Diocese did indeed spend more than $2000 directly contacting (or asking people to directly contact) people in public office. According to Bishop Lori, that doesn't make the Diocese a lobby. They were merely standing up against legislation that directly affected them.
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organization on its Web site when it urged parishioners to contact lawmakers about the bill, which eventually was withdrawn amid public outcry, and about a another bill to legalize same-sex marriage, which was signed into law in April.
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 FOXNews.com on Thursday.
Except, of course, that legalizing gay marriage has no direct effect on the Catholic Church, as they are by no means obligated to provide, or even condone gay marriages, or homosexuality in general. So that, once again, is a clear case of an organization attempting to force their personal values on a larger group of people (sounds like a lobby to me). Then there's the amazing fact that the Bishop actually managed to get his parishioners to protest "a bill that would have granted more power to parishioners regarding church finances." I realize that's not really how the Catholic Church does things, but I still can't believe a group of Catholic lay people really sat there and went "that's OUTRAGEOUS. We'll go put a stop to that right away."
The Connecticut Office of State Ethics needs to have some balls on this one and declare the Diocese a lobby. It's high time that churches learned to draw the line between God and Politics. I realize that the Church ruled the West for a very long time. But under their rule an unbelievable amount of suffering occurred (and not too much progress). They fell from power because they should never have had it to begin with, nor should they have it now. Religious organizations do not belong in politics. They belong in Churches and, more importantly, in soup kitchens, and homeless shelters, and food banks...
Matthew 19:16-21 says:
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"Luke 14:12-14 says:
"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
"Which ones?" the man inquired.
Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."Imagine what that Diocese could have done if they'd devoted their time and energy to helping others. And the funny thing is, I couldn't find anything in the Bible about political lobbying. Bishop Lori, WTF would Jesus do?