State Senator L. Scott Frantz Speaks Out Against SB 1098

March 11, 2009

Calls Bill an Unconstitutional Attack on Religious Freedom

Hartford, CT – State Senator L. Scott Frantz (R-Greenwich) Tuesday spoke again in opposition to SB 1098: An Act Modifying Corporate Laws Relating to Certain Religions. SB 1098 would in effect remove all financial control from the Bishops, pastors and priests of their parish. In their place, the legislation would establish a board of directors consisting of lay people elected from within the parish. This new board of directors would then assume all financial control over the parish and its community outreach and service programs.

The bill was raised in the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee and a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee was planned for Wednesday, March 11th. Senator Frantz had prepared testimony in opposition to SB 1098 in anticipation of this hearing. However, Tuesday afternoon, the committee moved to cancel that hearing.

“What we’ve witnessed over the past few days with this bill is, to say the least, disappointing,” said Senator Frantz. “This bill is an unconstitutional attack on the intrinsic separation of church and state. This constitutionally protected separation has, for centuries, been a cornerstone of our democracy and a stable society. To see that freedom so blatantly diluted by this legislation is something I will oppose every step of the way.”

In addition to taking financial control from the church, the bill would also allow any person who suspects money donated to the Church has been used for any purpose other than for the donor’s intent, can report the claim to the Attorney General. Under the bill, the Attorney General must then investigate and take necessary action.

“This bill pulls the rug out from under the Catholic Church but it also leaves the door wide open for similar attacks on the authority of other religions. The entire Senate Republican Caucus opposes its passage and will fight to see it kept from becoming law,” said Senator Frantz. “The bill should never have made it to the point of a public hearing.”

While the Judiciary Committee has cancelled the official public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, House and Senate Republicans moved forward with an informational hearing in Hartford on the bill allowing members of the public to voice their concerns and gather information on the issue. House and Senate Democrats were invited to attend.