Making news in Connecticut

connecticutA few days ago, reader Derek pointed out the complete lack of mainstream media coverage of a rather shocking bill that was introduced in the Connecticut State Legislature.

Wow, you haven't blogged on the "non-news story" but I think it should get *some* attention from the MSM, don't you?

Catholic Bishop to be stripped of his governing Authority of his Diocese by the CT State Legislature- kind of hits you between the eyes.

It sounded almost too crazy to be true. But there were various links on Catholic sites and general blogs.

I have found it rather confusing to read through or follow but basically the Judiciary Committee introduced Raised Bill 1098. If passed, it would replace the Roman Catholic Church's governing structure in Connecticut with a congregational system. The bishop and the pastor would lose their authority and a board of laymen would govern each parish. Imagine if the state told congregationalists that they had to submit to a bishop or metropolitan.

American Papist has a partial justification from one of the bill's sponsors. He says it's about a couple of parishes that had bad priests who stole funds. The NC Register has an article discussing whether the bill is payback for the church's opposition to same-sex marriage. Here's some more information from a state senator who opposes the bill.

But where in the heck is the mainstream media coverage?

I watched for coverage all weekend and on Monday. Later in the day, there was finally some local coverage. The Hartford Courant (which, I learned from a recent Jeopardy, is the oldest continuously operating newspaper in the U.S.) explained the bill and the claims of its Democratic sponsors in a blog post. The Connecticut Post had a lengthy analysis of the bill and fallout. And the Courant had a solid story with lots of context and quotes:

Experts on religion and the First Amendment say such a proposal is unlikely to pass constitutional muster.

"You cannot tell a church how it can govern itself,'' said Marc D. Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress in New York. "The church is entitled to govern itself any which way it wants.''

Similar efforts by states to control the Catholic Church were commonplace in the 19th Century, said Andrew Walsh, associate director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College.

I have been surprised at many political events this year, but I have to say I am shocked that this bill could be introduced by a committee, much less discussed at a hearing on Wednesday.

This is certainly worthy of more than the local news coverage it has received.

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