Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Separation Of Church And Connecticut

The separation of church and state – an expression first found in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Baptists in Danbury and not in the U.S. Constitution – is one of those secular pieties rigidly observed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others, except when it is not religiously observed.

The Rev. LeRoy Bailey, who had opened First Cathedral church in Bloomfield to students graduating from High Schools within reasonable distance of the cathedral, was set upon by the ever vigilant – except when it is not being vigilant – ACLU, which persuaded a court that the reverend had overstepped putative constitutional strictures. The court shut down the operation, apparently because it felt that students gathering in a church building to celebrate a secular event in the absence of masses and ministers would somehow infect the assembled students with impermissible religious doctrines. One political observer, myself, speculated that the court perhaps believed in homeopathic magic.

And now the unthinkable has happened: Two churches in New Haven have opened their doors to politicians, while the ACLU is sleeping the sleep of the just.

True, the politicians – Linda McMahon and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, both running for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s soon to be vacant seat in congress -- are not recent graduates of Connecticut schools, but each, according to stories in the New Haven Independent, did attend a church to spread their political gospels. From the point of view of the ACLU, which considered the church and state association in Bloomfield to be impermissible, it should hardly matter at all in these circumstances who is corrupting whom. There were, after all, children in the assembly.

Blumenthal, whose political gathering was held in the basement of a church, should not be able for that reason to shrug off the demanding fiats of the ACLU; the homeopathic magic that polluted graduating students at First Church seeps through stone and floorboard, and on these two more recent occasions ministers of the word were present.

Blumenthal’s evangel for his affair was U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Catholic who has from time to time quarreled publicly with certain unsavory demands of her church. The Catholic Church, its bishops, the Pope and a sizeable chunk of the laity, all frown on abortion and positively snarl at partial birth abortion. Ms. DeLauro’s conscience is at ease with both, as are the unruffled consciences of other putative Catholics in Connecticut’s congressional delegation, prominent among them Mr. Dodd and U.S. Rep. John Larson. Homeopathic magic, it should be observed, has not infected the state’s Catholic members of the Congressional delegation who, presumably, attend services on Sundays, otherwise they would be simpatico with their church’s doctrines.

Church-state affairs in Thomas Hooker’s Connecticut suffered a setback when Politico disclosed recently that Mr. Blumenthal’s campaign aides had discussed “tarring Linda McMahon in cooperation with Planned Parenthood,” the pro-choice abortion providers.

In an e-mail supplied to Politico, "Worst of WWE + women photos," one of the aides breaks out in song: “"Hey all — Grossman is looking for mysoginistic (sic) photos of women and WWE. Planned Parenthood wants to hit LM hard on it,"

Heeding the call, press staffer Marcy Stech e-mailed seven other campaign aides and the State Democratic Party. "What do we got? (sic)"

Andrew Grossman, a top tier Democratic operative with Babylon on the Potomac experience, worked at the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee from 1999 to 2003. In 2004, he was the director of Polling and Targeting for the George Soros-funded group, America Coming Together. In 2005, he founded Wal-Mart Watch. The e-mail, Politico remarks, “seems to raise the question of whether the campaign is coordinating with Planned Parenthood, an outside group.”

It was left to Blumenthal spokesman Ty Matsdorf to offer a non-apology for the attempt to smear McMahon. Apparently, Dick – as we are encouraged to call the attorney general formerly known as Richard – was unavailable for comment, as was Mr. Grossman. Mr. Matsdorf claimed, somewhat implausibly in such a well coordinated campaign, that the Blumenthal effort to tar Mrs. McMahon was uncoordinated. The campaign was simply looking for “an image that would be circulated on Twitter or in a press release, but not in a paid ad campaign of any sort.”

Next Sunday, two days before Election Day, as we head for church to beg forgiveness of our sins, Democrats might to well to send up a prayer that God may bless and coordinate the Blumenthal campaign.


Bruce Rubenstein said...

Don...Grossman lives in Simsbury....and worked for me in the 90's as we hired him to be the campaign manager of Mayor Carried Perry's successful campaign of 1991.

Don Pesci said...


Thanks. I cleaned that up. I meant to suggest only that he had strong connections to the beltway, not that he lived there.

Doug Indeap said...

Wake Forest University recently published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere. It does a good job of explaining what appear to you as inconsistencies. I commend it to you. http://tiny.cc/6nnnx

Don Pesci said...

Thanks Doug. The condition of the body of legal interpretation on the First Amendment is just silly, but you’ve provided a good summary of the silliness. I don’t think the case at First Cathedral has gone to trial; a judge merely issued an injunction preventing graduation ceremonies. Decisions on the First Amendment and the free exercise of religion clause are, in my humble judgment, simply lawless. The problem is that the establishment clause has been interpreted in such a way as to fairly abolish the free exercise clause. As a result, we are left with dubious interpretations of the law -- which puts me in mind of a passage from, I think, Dickens, in which one of the characters, confronted by an obviously unjust law, says, “Sir, if that is what the law says, then the law is an ass.”

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