Shelton and Stratford residents who traveled to Hartford Wednesday to oppose a bill that threatened Catholic parishes throughout the state should continue to pay close attention to developments at the state legislature even though the legislation appears dead for the time being, said state Representatives Jason Perillo and Lawrence G. Miller and state Senator Dan Debicella, who met with constituents who participated in the rally“This is not just an issue that Catholics alone need to be concerned about,” said Representative Perillo, R-113th District. “If it’s the Catholic Church today, it’s another denomination tomorrow. This legislation dangerously blurred the lines between church and state and would have had a chilling effect on everyone’s first amendment right to freedom of religion. It would have dangerously blurred the lines between church and state.”
“Even though widespread public outrage about this proposal (Senate Bill 1098) appears to have succeeded in killing it, Catholic parishioners from Shelton and Stratford as well as clergy and people of other faiths who traveled to Hartford to protest this legislation should continue to pay careful attention to developments at the state capitol,” said Representative Miller, R-122nd District, who represents parts of Shelton and Stratford.
“Although the Judiciary Committee’s co-chairs, state Senator Andrew J. McDonald, D-Stamford, and state Representative Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, canceled the public hearing on the bill, apparently allowing it to die in committee, people need to be aware that measures like these usually have powerful supporters who can resurrect them as amendments to measures dealing with similar issues or by inserting them in omnibus ‘implementer’ bills at the end of the legislative session,” Representative Miller said. “No bill, even a controversial one like this, is ever really dead until the General Assembly adjourns for the year.”
“”I believe this bill is an inappropriate invasion of religious freedom. No religion should have its governance dictated to it by state government. Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and SB 1098 clearly violated the separation of church and state. All religions should have the right to govern themselves as their clergy and parishioners see fit—not have decisions forced on them by politicians in Hartford,” said Senator Debicella, R-21st District.
The bill would have radically changed the legal, financial and administrative structure of Catholic parishes.
“This bill would have established a dangerous precedent for state interference in the internal affairs of not only the Catholic Church, but other denominations as well,” Representative Miller said. “For example, the Catholic Church operates hospitals throughout Connecticut and receives state aid for the numerous services it provides to our citizens. Two years ago, when liberal legislators clashed with the church on the issue of whether all health care facilities in Connecticut should be required to administer the so-called ‘morning after’ pill to sexual assault victims, those legislators threatened to pull state funding for Catholic hospitals when church leaders objected to the proposal on religious, ethical and moral grounds.”
“Although the issue was resolved through a compromise, and a disastrous church-state confrontation was avoided, there are several legislators whose ultimate goal is to tighten state control over the Catholic Church and other denominations that object to many of their goals. Had this bill passed, it would have gone a long way toward advancing their secularist agenda,” Representative Miller said.