Suing the Church?

Jodi - posted on 10/16/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I live in a small, rural town in Wisconsin that, as recently as 10-15 years ago, has basically been owned and run by the Catholic Church. (There are 2 catholic schools, 2 public schools and a highschool, which used to be catholic, town of about 2,000 people lol, and about 8 churches, maybe 3 of which are not roman catholic.) Within this last decade, as our town has expanded and people of different races (I can remember the first black kid in town, I was in 8th grade.) religions and ethnicities the church has lost some of it's clutch on the town, but not all.

Recently, we were supposed to have a Democratic meeting with city mayors, senators, politicians and the local public. The location is technically public, but since the church donates the VAST majority of the money it receives for upkeep it is kind of considered the church's site by the people, but not legally. Anyways, long story short, 4 days before the meeting is to occur an order from the Diocese comes down to cancel the democratic party meeting. Rumor mill is flying about with the reasons why, including the fact that democrats are very looked down upon in this area and would threaten the church, the diocese has had nothing to say. The latest story is that the church will be sued for political discrimination. (Yes, I realize it's a lot of speculation, but that's small town life for ya!)

First off, can the church even be sued, they don't actually own the property, but threatened to pull funding if the meeting wasn't cancelled.
That technicality aside, should the church be allowed to do such a thing, even if they did own the property? Especially after having booked the event several months in advance?
I stay out of the religious aspect of my town, but this one rubs me the wrong way (maybe because I'm democratic? Maybe because I'm nto catholic? IDK) and I really think the church was out of line to demand or even suggest this, regardless of whether they owned the property or not.

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Krista - posted on 10/16/2010

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Churches are supposed to stay out of politics -- separation of church and state, right? I think that any church that involves itself with politics like that should immediately lose their tax-exempt status. They might not be able to be sued, but they probably COULD be reported to the IRS.

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I do see your point. It's like the church is bribing the property owner. Wrong. But then again, the way the money is used should be up to the discretion of the church (so long as it's legal of course).

Jodi - posted on 10/16/2010

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Sara, yes, the meeting could still occur, but without the funding they can't pay property taxes, pay anyone to mow lawn (this place is about 10 acres with cabins for sleeping in and pavillions etc etc), repave the road when need be, etc etc etc. Partially the property owners fault for relying on one source of funding so heavily, but if it were truly a "donation", as it is called, the church shouldn't have a say in the goings on, but I also see that if they don't agree with it they don't have to donate.

And it is a lot of he said she said malarky, that's small town life for you! The church won't make a statement so the only person with any real information is the person who received the call to cancel the meeting...and she's not talking either. lol

I guess my issue is the fact that the church (and by "the church", I mean the people running the church, the services, the finances etc etc etc.) knows how much this place relies on them and is using their money to coerce them into obeying their wishes and in the end discriminating a political group. It does not seem very christian like to me. But, such is life I guess. :( lol

[deleted account]

I agree, no politics from the pulpit.



But an organization can do what they want with their money. We may not always agree with it, but then you don't want people telling you what to do with your money. If they see fit to not fund the upkeep of a public area, why should they continue to do so?



Can the meeting still occur without the funding from the church? It seems like a lot of "he said/she said" as far as what actually happened anyway.

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