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Author Topic: Connecticut church finance bill  (Read 3442 times)

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Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Connecticut church finance bill
« on: March 11, 2009, 09:19:48 PM »
Wow, that is kind of ballsy of state government. Good to see it was shot down. I mean, if you espouse freedom of religion, honor the constitution, surely this idea is an affront. Catholics are an easy target these days in popular culture, no surprise progressive New England is going after them.

--
HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - Thousands of Roman Catholics demonstrated in Connecticut on Wednesday against a state government proposal to shift control of parish finances to lay officials from priests and bishops.

Lawmakers effectively killed the legislation on Tuesday but nearly 4,000 Catholics still held a protest at the gold-domed state Capitol to express opposition to what they said was a threat to the separation of church and state.

"Religious freedom holds a privileged place in American society," said the Rev. Richard Ryscavage, who runs Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life. "You tamper with that religious freedom at your own political peril."

Ryscavage was speaking at a hearing with state Republicans on Wednesday, a day after the Democratic backers of the bill agreed to kill it in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, at least for the rest of this year.

http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE52A7EQ20090311


Offline RubySlippers

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2009, 09:34:23 PM »
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Ok that is the body of the First Amendment now where does it say the state cannot decide on the business matters withing a church they cannot make a law establishing a faith or prohibit the free exercise of religion in most cases - as long as their is not outstanding reason to. I would say the government had every right to pass this law and further to tax all religious property not de facto doing some service or activity otherwise exempted so that a non-religous entity would qualify for that exception. It also clearly doesn't ban the actions of a faith in politics or the public arena.

Its plain black and white English why one needs to interprete the language much if at all making up things not IN the amendments language is not something I see a need to do, unless we are talking specific extreme cases where there is a real interest fo the government. Like a religion that sacrificed children ok that is against the law on other grounds but where do they get this seperation clause. If that was in there it would have said something like ,and the government may not involve itself with religion or religion with affairs of state, is some simple language. Or you can amend the Constitution properly to make that law. Neither is the case here.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2009, 09:46:27 PM »
And now where does it say that a judge cannot post the 10 commandments in his or her courtroom, yet people call to the supposed same 'separation of church and state' to make their case on that issue.

I object to this idea simply on the basis of government interference in private institutions period, never mind the religious aspect.

Clearly the goal of some (if 'some' isn't you, than this isn't you!) is to control, divide and destroy religion.

Funny thing is, I'm not Catholic, religious or even spiritual, I am agnostic really. Still, time and again, over and over all I see is religion being attacked. Sometimes it is for good reason, but fervor and hatred towards people of faith is beginning to get out of hand, in my opinion.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009, 10:03:02 PM »
I don't see he big deal of the government trying this it's not worth it. They can't to jack. Nearly everything a church does is tax exempt, plus you don't need an accounting degree to do the work. They just have to fill out the forms, and carry the ones. No this is a classic case of government interference in a private organization. That's a taboo on the market system.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2009, 10:55:40 PM »
Catholics are an easy target these days in popular culture, no surprise progressive New England is going after them.

Are we talking about the New England where the Kennedy name is still practically venerated? ;)  I'm with Inki on this one, though - the financial side of a church is really just a business, if a tax-exempt business.  If the government can't dictate what employees handle the finances of the local Dunkin Donuts (also venerated in New England), then they can't dictate which employees handle the finances of a church.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2009, 11:03:14 PM »
Are we talking about the New England where the Kennedy name is still practically venerated? ;)  I'm with Inki on this one, though - the financial side of a church is really just a business, if a tax-exempt business.  If the government can't dictate what employees handle the finances of the local Dunkin Donuts (also venerated in New England), then they can't dictate which employees handle the finances of a church.

A fair point about Kennedy and Catholicism, but nevertheless a lot of progressive ideals have come out of New England of late. I would be equally unsurprised if this story had come out of the West coast.

This is really not where we want to go with government, in my opinion. The fact though that it was a religious organization that was the target of the bill really caught my eye, and I would reject any thought that that was coincidental.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2009, 11:11:51 AM »
Hey. Hey. Connecticut is like the tagalong little brother. It likes to call itself New England, and the rest of us humour them because they pitch a big fit otherwise.

But this is not typical. I can't even imagine why a legislature would do that. So stupid.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2009, 02:35:56 PM »
Are we talking about the New England where the Kennedy name is still practically venerated? ;)  I'm with Inki on this one, though - the financial side of a church is really just a business, if a tax-exempt business.  If the government can't dictate what employees handle the finances of the local Dunkin Donuts (also venerated in New England), then they can't dictate which employees handle the finances of a church.

Sure they can the states in fact have far more power here than the Federal government, see the 10th Amendment on this point. All they have to do is pass a law on who can do bookeeping and who may submit records in an organization. Its not interference in the churches on matters of faith. My only concern is it should cover all faiths and their organziations as well as businesses in general to be fair.

I would point out not taxes churches and related organizations encourages religion which is according to precedent also illegal using the common arguements, since it frees up funds for religious activities normally going to costs such as if they were taxable businesses. And it hurts their freedom to promote their agendas since tax exemption restricts their speech as in they can't involve themselves in politics if they are offended or support a party or person in races. So I can make a good case the language was not included in the First Amendment or elsewhere on purpose to mandate seperation of faith and government.

May I ask did anyone look at all the representatives in the First Congress that proposed the Bill of Rights, not just a few big names, I have been checking and it seems many were men of deep faith. In afew cases people with ministry backgrounds. If so Thomas Jefferson may have been the odd case and they wanted religion involved in government.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2009, 02:41:10 PM »
All they have to do is pass a law on who can do bookeeping and who may submit records in an organization. Its not interference in the churches on matters of faith. My only concern is it should cover all faiths and their organziations as well as businesses in general to be fair.

The problem in the initial post was that it was directed at the finances of a church (or possibly of churches in general).  As I said in my post,

Quote
If the government can't dictate what employees handle the finances of the local Dunkin Donuts (also venerated in New England), then they can't dictate which employees handle the finances of a church.

If I read your post right, you are suggesting that if it applied to all businesses (not just a church or even just all churches), then it would be fine - which is about what I was saying.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2009, 02:56:26 PM »
In order for this debate to continue Dunkin' Doughnuts will no longer be used as an example. I haven't had Dunkin' Doughnuts since I was a kid because some jackass drove his store through the only one south of the Mason Dixon line, selfish bastard...

The government has the hands-off policy when it comes to businesses. It's stupid that they should try to regulate the accounting of a private institution. It's like coming into someone's home to regulate their accounting.

Offline MHaji

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2009, 08:40:43 PM »
This seems like a trespass, and I would like to know the reasoning that prompted the proposal before I make any judgment. Was there some sort of deeply untoward activity going on behind the scenes?

Quote
The bill was crafted after the former pastor of St. John's Roman Catholic Church in the town of Darien pleaded guilty in September 2007 to stealing more than $1 million from the church and sentenced to more than three years in federal prison.

A-ha. I don't think this quite justifies the level of power transfer suggested here, but if a church is in a position to turn into an illicit tax shelter/racketeering organization, there needs to be some temporary oversight.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2009, 08:53:56 PM »
Laws were broken, and laws were enforced. Nothing much beyond that need be done. To take this as a  license to take over the financial details of a church or religion goes well beyond anything I'd like to see the government do.

More to the point though, I really do not think it was coincidental the bill's target was a religious institution.

In fact, here is the bill.

http://cga.ct.gov/2009/TOB/S/2009SB-01098-R00-SB.htm

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2009, 10:20:09 PM »
This seems like a trespass, and I would like to know the reasoning that prompted the proposal before I make any judgment. Was there some sort of deeply untoward activity going on behind the scenes?

A-ha. I don't think this quite justifies the level of power transfer suggested here, but if a church is in a position to turn into an illicit tax shelter/racketeering organization, there needs to be some temporary oversight.
A government accountant can do the same thing.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2009, 10:51:52 PM »
Wouldn't using a government accountant be the same thing as moving the control of the finances to a lay person instead of the priest/bishop?  (Also, the transfer to a lay employee of the church wouldn't actually prevent the illicit activity described in the quote MHaji provided.  A lay employee is just as capable of stealing money from the church.)

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2009, 11:06:57 PM »
Wouldn't using a government accountant be the same thing as moving the control of the finances to a lay person instead of the priest/bishop?  (Also, the transfer to a lay employee of the church wouldn't actually prevent the illicit activity described in the quote MHaji provided.  A lay employee is just as capable of stealing money from the church.)
Yeah that's what I meant.

Offline MHaji

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2009, 12:28:38 AM »
Quote
A government accountant can do the same thing.

Only with the collusion of the church in question, if a system is set up where the church finances are checked, but not run, by the government accountant. In that case, more parties would need to be involved. I'm not saying that this is the wisest course, but it's certainly better than turning the entire shebang over to the government.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2009, 01:55:42 AM »

I object to this idea simply on the basis of government interference in private institutions period, never mind the religious aspect.

Same here.  Like the government is in any position to criticize others for money management...

Offline Zakharra

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2009, 08:37:05 AM »
Same here.  Like the government is in any position to criticize others for money management...

 Word.

Offline Apple of Eris

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2009, 08:39:00 PM »
I don't see what's wrong with the bill. Did anyone actually read the bill or does everyone just assume CT wanted to socialze and take govt control of the church? What the bill does is place the chruch finances under the care of a group of directors who shall be lay members of the church's congregation.

What the law does is place the church's finances under the care of members of the church instead of letting the priest/bishop/whoever have absolute control over the finances. And since it's pretty likely at least one of those lay members will have some kind of financial knowledge wheras a single priest probably isn't going to, I think that might be a good thing. Also kind of helps make it harder to 'misappropriate funds' when you have your congregation to answer to and don't directly control the money.

The state wasn't trying to run the church finances here, they were trying to take money out of the priests hands and putting it into the church members' hands.
In my eyes, a good idea.

Offline ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2009, 08:47:01 PM »
I don't see what's wrong with the bill. Did anyone actually read the bill or does everyone just assume CT wanted to socialze and take govt control of the church? What the bill does is place the chruch finances under the care of a group of directors who shall be lay members of the church's congregation.

What the law does is place the church's finances under the care of members of the church instead of letting the priest/bishop/whoever have absolute control over the finances. And since it's pretty likely at least one of those lay members will have some kind of financial knowledge wheras a single priest probably isn't going to, I think that might be a good thing. Also kind of helps make it harder to 'misappropriate funds' when you have your congregation to answer to and don't directly control the money.

The state wasn't trying to run the church finances here, they were trying to take money out of the priests hands and putting it into the church members' hands.
In my eyes, a good idea.

Indeed, you are correct in that. I would however disagree that it is the state's place or authority to tell any private organization, mush less one such as a church, how its finances are to be managed. Yes, even if it is only to just turn it over to the parishioners. Its just not the state's place, IMHO.

Not all things that sound good, are in fact good, or a good idea. Even with the best of intentions.

Offline Apple of Eris

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2009, 08:53:00 PM »
Well, the church is a corporation, and states regulate the corporations that are based/operating within their borders. Therefore, states can and should regulate church finances - to an extent.

Offline Nessy

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2009, 10:05:25 PM »
Well, the church is a corporation, and states regulate the corporations that are based/operating within their borders. Therefore, states can and should regulate church finances - to an extent.

Religious organization aren't exactly the same as corporations when it comes to the law. And while corporations have regulations regarding their finances (as in how information is reported and who is and who is not allowed to auditing in certain industries), I've not heard of the government forcing a corporation to change who does their finances just because they want the members to have control. That sounds very invasive to me, church or not.

Offline Apple of Eris

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2009, 10:23:35 PM »
Religious organization aren't exactly the same as corporations when it comes to the law. And while corporations have regulations regarding their finances (as in how information is reported and who is and who is not allowed to auditing in certain industries), I've not heard of the government forcing a corporation to change who does their finances just because they want the members to have control. That sounds very invasive to me, church or not.

No, they aren't. They're 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations under federal law which prohibits certain expenditures and activities and requires certain reporting standards for earnings and filings. Infortunately under federal law, churches are exempt from being forced to make their returns, reports, notices, and filings iopen to public inspection, but state law can force them to do so.

I like the CT law and wish it had passed. Actually I wish it had passed for ALL religious denominations nationwide. Churches should be held accountable to their members and their books should be made open to public inspection since they are a non-profit corporation and should not, in my opinion, be afforded any opaqueness in their operations not granted to other corporations holding the same status.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2009, 10:39:21 PM »
A Church can easily be viewed as a small buisness.  I do not think they can be labeled to the larger corporation status unless the Catholic Church itself were taken into the equation.  Individual churches are basically franchise operations from the Roman Catholic Church.  They collect donations from members, host events to achieve their own goals and perform housekeeping to themselves.  Most churches have a board of deacons or what have you to direct these operations.  A priest is typically head of that group.

My problem with this bill is that the government is abolishing the committe because the executive of the franchise did something illegal.  The state is attempting to take a buisness from its owners and place it into the hands of lay people.  This church did not borrow money from the state, did not place themselves at the mercy of the state but instead the members of the church were robbed.  If those members demanded some financial oversight or they would cease donations, I would find that acceptable.

The State may have the authority to govern fianances in their district, but I think they are making an example of a poor target.  Many churches across this country have evangealists and leaders that have stolen money.  Embezelment and corruption have been found in all of them, but this in an unusual reaction.  Corporations have likewise done this over and over again.  Buisness owners have cheated on their taxes before without the government turning their company over to employees or worse yet customers. 

This sounds like an internal matter for the congregation to handle, not for the government to busy itself rearranging.

I agree largely with Apple on the Churches needing to become more of a non-profit institution.  The problem is that if they come in that way there is alot of BS going to be thrown around.  Such as in my area it was a huge contrversy over extending state education vouchers to parochial schools.

As a sidenote, if I were part of the CT government and saw religious people rushing to "Seperation of Church and State" for their defense.  I would never let them live it down.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Connecticut church finance bill
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2009, 10:56:11 PM »
 But since they -are- churches, they fall under a very gray area for the government to be dabbling in. If the government can tell a church how it runs it's finances, that can be seen as stepping across the 'Seperation of Church and State' that so many on both sides have such an issue with.