GOP Rep to target Catholic Church tax status

It’s on between the Tea Party and the Catholic Church in New Hampshire.

Republican State Rep. and Tea Party leader Andrew Manuse (R-Derry) told the Catholic League he will be filing legislation in the New Hampshire House to strip the Roman Catholic Church of its tax exempt status because Bishop John McCormack spoke against proposed budget cuts at a recent State House rally, according to Bill Donohue, the President of the Catholic League.

“I am now considering a bill to remove the Church’s tax exempt status in New Hampshire, for you have clearly shown that you no longer want it,” Manuse says in the e-mail.

Sources at the State House have confirmed to NH Journal that Manuse indeed intends to file such legislation.

Last week, McCormack joined several thousand protesters to oppose Republican-sponsored budget cuts.

“Never in the nearly 18 years I have spent as president of the Catholic League have I seen more totally irresponsible statements issued by the lawmakers in any one state,” said Donohue in a statement. “Why doesn’t Manuse go right ahead with his bill to remove the Church’s tax-exempt status? We’d love to present his e-mail in court.”

Manuse gained notoriety earlier in the session for filing legislation he called the “don’t touch my junk” bill. The measure would have placed TSA screeners on the sexual predator registry.

Manuse’s threat could enflame serious constitutional controversies about the roles of church and state. It is highly probable that the punitive nature of Manuse’s bill would violate the state and federal constitutions – an irony because Manuse considers himself an expert on the constitution.

Senior Republicans are growing concerned that the caustic tone in Concord may harm the Granite State as it fights to keep its treasured first-in-the-nation status against larger states, especially Florida.

“We have always prided ourselves on being thoughtful, considerable voters who should be trusted with important responsibility of picking presidents. But the recent antics in Concord have cast a dark shadow over that assertion,” one longtime Republican strategist told NH Journal.

UPDATE: Manuse has responded to NH Journal below:

“Wow, this is article is so filled with misinformation, I couldn’t possibly let it stand without correction. There is already a federal provision that prohibits a church leader from engaging in the political process if the church has a tax-exempt status. What Bishop McCormack did was in effect breaking that law. If he wants to engage in the process, he can step down as Bishop or have his church pay taxes; those are his options, according to the federal provision. What made Bishop McCormack’s actions more reprehensible is that his job under Cardinal Law in Boston was to take care of the pedophile priest problem. It is well known that Bishop McCormack was in a position to oversee the movement of priests around to different church districts after they had been caught abusing children. His case was settled out of court, thus I would argue that true justice was not served. The controversy was intense when he was later named bishop in New Hampshire. So, when he said at the State House that our budget doesn’t take care of the “most vulnerable,” its very clear to me that he is being hypocritical, at best, for it doesn’t seem like he cared so much for the “most vulnerable” from where I’m sitting. My comment, “I am now considering a bill to remove the Church’s tax exempt status in New Hampshire, for you have clearly shown that you no longer want it” was a reflection of the federal law and of the principle that a person in high religious authority should not be engaging in the political process. The fact that it was this Bishop using hypocritical terms, made the situation even more irritating. It is important to note that the word “considering” does not mean that I intend to file such legislation, and I have told no sources at the State House of any such intent. In fact, I acted alone with my comments and they in no way are related to the Tea Party or any other state representative. The comments, again, a reflection on the federal provision, would consider a similar state provision that gives churches the choice to pay property taxes and engage, or to not pay property taxes and to not engage. Considering the federal provision, the bill is worth discussing. This is certainly not an attack on the Catholic Church or any religion, for I am Christian myself. It is a question as to whether someone should have a pulpit where they can promote their agenda as they wish and then take that agenda to the State House and become a political activist. Is that right? I don’t know. I think it is worth considering. However, this entire false controversy has made me quite angry. I would think that good Catholic and Christian people would be angrier at what the Bishop did, both in breaking the law and being hypocritical, than they would be at the Majority Leader for an off-color remark that was accurate in its sentiment. I would ask the good people of this state to consider the facts, and then reconsider the smear job that is the article above.”

Author: Shawn Millerick

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  • Andrew Manuse

    Wow, this is article is so filled with misinformation, I couldn’t possibly let it stand without correction. There is already a federal provision that prohibits a church leader from engaging in the political process if the church has a tax-exempt status. What Bishop McCormack did was in effect breaking that law. If he wants to engage in the process, he can step down as Bishop or have his church pay taxes; those are his options, according to the federal provision. What made Bishop McCormack’s actions more reprehensible is that his job under Cardinal Law in Boston was to take care of the pedophile priest problem. It is well known that Bishop McCormack was in a position to oversee the movement of priests around to different church districts after they had been caught abusing children. His case was settled out of court, thus I would argue that true justice was not served. The controversy was intense when he was later named bishop in New Hampshire. So, when he said at the State House that our budget doesn’t take care of the “most vulnerable,” its very clear to me that he is being hypocritical, at best, for it doesn’t seem like he cared so much for the “most vulnerable” from where I’m sitting. My comment, “I am now considering a bill to remove the Church’s tax exempt status in New Hampshire, for you have clearly shown that you no longer want it” was a reflection of the federal law and of the principle that a person in high religious authority should not be engaging in the political process. The fact that it was this Bishop using hypocritical terms, made the situation even more irritating. It is important to note that the word “considering” does not mean that I intend to file such legislation, and I have told no sources at the State House of any such intent. In fact, I acted alone with my comments and they in no way are related to the Tea Party or any other state representative. The comments, again, a reflection on the federal provision, would consider a similar state provision that gives churches the choice to pay property taxes and engage, or to not pay property taxes and to not engage. Considering the federal provision, the bill is worth discussing. This is certainly not an attack on the Catholic Church or any religion, for I am Christian myself. It is a question as to whether someone should have a pulpit where they can promote their agenda as they wish and then take that agenda to the State House and become a political activist. Is that right? I don’t know. I think it is worth considering. However, this entire false controversy has made me quite angry. I would think that good Catholic and Christian people would be angrier at what the Bishop did, both in breaking the law and being hypocritical, than they would be at the Majority Leader for an off-color remark that was accurate in its sentiment. I would ask the good people of this state to consider the facts, and then reconsider the smear job that is the article above.
    Rep. Andrew J. Manuse, Rockingham 5

    • Bdeanrob

      Manuse, you’re a waste of oxygen.

      • Anonymous

        Bdeanrob stick to making sausages

    • Anonymous

      This blog is more about gossip than real news so you have to consider that.

    • Sactownguy2

      hey nutjob. No one wants to touch your junk. do not worry. and NO church in this nation should ever be tax exempt, when they participate in electins and politics, or when they pick and choose which people are “worthy” of their help. Period. now run along republitard…you and the tea party are quickly on your way out. buh-bye.

    • Surly

      First you try to get Bishop McCormack’s tax-exempt status stripped for exercising his freedom of speech at a rally completely unconnected with his church, and now you imply that he was an accessory to child molestation. Very classy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katherine-Prudhomme-OBrien/1470933884 Katherine Prudhomme O’Brien

        But he was, that is established fact. He did sweep the accusations under the rug and just move accused priests around when he should have done more in the days when he worked for Bernard Law.
        In fairness, McCormack has gotten better since then but he is not really trusted because of the past, that’s why his comments about protecting the vulnerable were reacted to the way they were by awake, caring people. If any other priest in this state were speaking that day, all of this “impolite behaviour” from our new reps- too new to have been taught all the ways of polite society or just too fed up by the insanity- would not be happening.
        What frustrates me is all the “polite people” who just don’t want to believe how bad McCormack really was, so now they think it’s unclassy to say he was an accessory to child molestation. Being polite and classy is trying to make other people feel respected and cared about, not sticking your head in the sand. For Christ’s sake-wake up!

        • JTA

          Using what the bishop did or did not do in another context to beat him into silence on a subject he has the right to speak on is vile. That has little to do with the facts of this case, to wit : the bishop is now doing his job as he sees it by attempting to speak up for the poor. Does he have a full grasp of the situation ? Probably not. Is he being a little knee-jerk ? Maybe. Is he ordering Catholics to oppose these measures on pain of excommunication ? Certainly not. Is he a saint ? No, perhaps not by a long shot. But he is a bishop, the head of the local Catholic Church, and a successor of the apostles. He is offering his opinion as a citizen and a leader who has responsibility for his people, some of whom are poor and need government help. If you are not Catholic, why the hell do you care ? If you are, at least show the man a modicum of respect by keeping your yap shut.
          You don’t like him as your bishop ? Tough. It ain’t a democracy. Grow up, offer it up, and shut up.

          • Baailz

            religion is a total waist of time, money, and most importantly life. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Easler/1441692146 Dan Easler

      Rep. Manuse,
      I am Catholic and I agree with and support you. Thanks for the courage to stand up to a powerful organization. Most Catholic Clergy are wonderful blessings to their community. Bishop McCormack won’t be around forever.

    • http://twitter.com/gouletdrg Daniel Goulet

      You lost my vote and I will no longer support the Communist Party that you are obviously a member of under the guise of “Republican.” Resign now. By the way, the Supreme Court supports what the Bishop did. Guess you missed that class, among others.

      • Doesnothaveamustache

        Yeah but look at what justices supports what the Bishop did, The COMMUNIST ONES!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I hope they remove tax exempt status from the Catholic Church, the UU’s who are not even a church but an arm of the UN, and the Episcopalians because none of them are about God anymore.

    GO ANDY! (although he is not a tea party ‘leader’… there ARE no leaders)

  • Guest
  • Anonymous

    Listen to HAND OF GOD, a PBS Frontline story in 2007, where Bishop McCormack is a major player in the cover- up of sexual abuse. This is the basis on which the remarks were made. Spend 90 minutes listening to this and then make some comments. Ever wonder why he was transferred to NH from Boston?

    Bettencourt didn’t just “make this comment up.” But I am sure most don’t want to think about it or hear the facts. I have seen NO REFERENCE to this PBS stroy in the press, which I am pretty sure is the basis for his remarks about McCormack. Go to the source! If you dare! Link is below, and you can listen on your computer or other device. Sgt Joe Friday: “The facts, M’am, just the facts!”

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/handofgod/view/?utm_campaign=viewpage&utm_medium=grid&utm_source=grid#more

  • manuse_is_a_punk

    The Bishop is not breaking the law. For an “expert” on the Constitution, you show how little you understand it. Manuse, you are a bigoted idiot– and that apparently isn’t very unusual in your state. Seems like you all like to hate on Catholics. That’s okay. The Barque of Peter has withstood much worse from much smarter men than you.
    Why don’t you put your money where your BIG F’in mouth is and do it, punk ?
    Separation of Church and State does NOT mean that churches do not have a voice in the political process. In fact, since you are such a freakin’ genius, perhaps you can point out where in the Constitution that it even MENTIONS the separation. Your ilk would like all voices but your own to be silenced. You’re no better than the leftists. I’m a Tea Party sympathizer, but you make me retch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Easler/1441692146 Dan Easler

      “Why don’t you put your money where your BIG F’in mouth is and do it, punk ?”

      Really? That’s your response? Great job defending the Magisterium, pal.

      Listen, I’m Catholic and I don’t want you ruining my reputation. Sit down. Be quiet.

      • JTA

        “Really? That’s your response? Great job defending the Magisterium, pal.
        Listen, I’m Catholic and I don’t want you ruining my reputation. Sit down. Be quiet.”

        Really, Dan ? ” I don’t want Bishop McCormack as my shepherd.” I see you defend the Magisterium wonderfully.

        What the hell is wrong with you ? You think it is okay to trash your own bishop and elevate your OWN economic theories over the teachings of the Church ?!

        The Bishop said :”Care for the poor is not just a principle, it’s a duty assigned to the General Court by the constitution of our state.”
        “We’re doing our share, now the government needs to uphold the long New Hampshire tradition of looking out for one another.”

        Those are the quotes I see. What is so communist about that ?
        How dare you tell me to sit down. You’re doing a fine job of ruining your reputation all by yourself. Ask yourself this question honestly : If Pope Benedict or JP II were at that rally, would they have said anything substantively different ?
        Thanks for reminding us that not all the cafeteria Catholics are on the left.

  • http://www.CoreyMondello.com/ Corey

    good….now just dump all religious institutions, organizations, universities, corporations, churches etc. once this happens, the USA will be a better place for everyone. James Madison, the “Father of the U.S. Constitution”, along with many founders of this country, regardless of their religious or non-religious affiliations, knew keeping politics and religion separate not only preserves each, but helps them flourish: “The number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church and the State.”

  • Concerned Citizen

    The Catholic League is registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. In 2009, according to its Form 990, its expenses were $2.9 million and it had $26.2 million in net assets. Bill Donohue’s salary and benefits amounted to $399,156.

  • JL

    “It is a question as to whether someone should have a pulpit where they can promote their agenda as they wish and then take that agenda to the State House and become a political activist.” because we all know HIS or any other church doesn’t do this at all, no sir. How about abortion? Or gay marriage? Crickets… Yeah, that is what I thought!

    ” I would think that good Catholic and Christian people would be angrier at what the Bishop did, both in breaking the law and being hypocritical” see above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Easler/1441692146 Dan Easler

    I’m a very conservative Roman Catholic, and I 100% agree with Manuse. I don’t want Bishop McCormack as my shepherd. I patiently wait.

    1st, A Bishop’s role is to guide the faith and morals of his flock. With well informed consciences, we can make the best decisions according to our knowledge and experience. There are lots of very good reasons that clergy are not supposed to endorse specific politicians or parties.

    One good reason is that clergy aren’t economists. Socialist ideas have infiltrated the clergy for decades, but that breed is dying. Check out the book “The Church and the Free Market” it talks about papal encyclicals and history to show why human liberty and prosperity happen in a free market not in a socialist one and that the free market is THE market officially endorsed by the Church.

    Not only is the Bishop way out of line legally and morally, he is just plain wrong. A shrinking state budget will lead to greater prosperity in this state and everyone will benefit. Yes, we should help the poor and elderly. Taxes aren’t the way to do it.

    His failures concerning pedophilia abuse have cost Catholics and Catholicism. Not only the victims themselves, many are disillusioned and have already denounced the Church. We’ve given those who would oppose us all the ammunition they’ll need for decades.

    Bishop McCormack, do your flock a favor: retire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Easler/1441692146 Dan Easler

    One more thing. Do I think non-profit organizations should be able to endorse specific candidates? Yes, in principle. Could that lead to abuses? The answer is complex. It pertains to how candidates’ campaigns are funded. But hey, why not even the playing field and allow all campaigns to be funded by non-profit, tax-exempt organizations?

    Do I want my clergy endorsing specific candidates? No. When they start studying economics in seminary, clergy might have a little more authority. But even then, if they study the inflationary, Keynesian Economics that has been the mainstream for the last century, then we’ll just be throwing fuel on the fire. Clergy tend to have big hearts, and that’s why they fall for politicians and economists that claim government can solve the problems of poverty.

    No. Clergy have enough on their plates. They should be focusing on solving spiritual poverty. Let Human Liberty, the Author of which resides in Heaven and in Hearts, create a financial system based on freedom and cooperation, not government coercion.

  • Nmazelis

    It is high time we had a discussion re whether the property of religious insitutions should be tax exempt or not.

  • JTA

    I see from all the whiny remarks from liberals and conservatives alike that the bishop did the right thing. He doesn’t claim to be an economist or an expert on political theory– he is simply cautioning the legislature that they cannot, in justice, starve the poor to death to balance the budget. Is this such an offensive statement ? I see the conservatives have joined in the chorus for the Church to “stay out of politics”– when the Church says something they don’t want to hear.
    I am conservative Catholic, politically and theologically, and think the bishop probably is overcompensating on behalf of the poor. That’s his job. We don’t have to like it. He has the right to say it, just like anyone else.
    How many of you liberal whiners would agitate for the removal of UNIONS from political discourse ?! Yeah, that’s what I thought.
    Free speech means free speech. Period.

  • Mike Flynn

    based on manuse’s response, he has an animus towards th RC church beyond the bishop’s remarks about an unjust budget.

  • Cindy

    I’m a Catholic Conservative and it sounds like Manuse is a publicity whore as well as anti-Catholic. Churches are free to support or oppose policy decisions but they are not allowed to tell members which candidates to vote for. Bishop McCormack was not speaking from a pulpit but was at a rally as an individual. What an embaressment for the GOP and Tea Party. Surely NH can find someone else to represent the tea party that has an ounce of class.

    • JTA

      Amen, sister.

  • http://twitter.com/gouletdrg Daniel Goulet

    Too late with the response. The Republican Party in NH is a complete embarrassement and I will no longer be a part of it, nor re-elected any member unless a full, public, front-page apology is issued. Nor did the Bishop violate any laws as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of tax-exempt groups taking part in political, non-partisan rallies–as this one was. Just because he spoke out against you does not make it a violation of laws. So much for the “Free State” I guess NH is now the “Communist Social State” under the leadership of Andrew Manuse and the Republican Party.

  • Ned Santee

    Manuse’s ramblings are based in fantasy, not fact. His supposed filing will never happen or get laughed away. The IRS information, the only place the tax-exempt status matters, seems quite clear that Bishop McCormack did nothing wrong.

    Clearly, IRC § 501(c)(3) [tax-exempt] organizations may not do such things as make statements that endorse or oppose a candidate, publish or distribute campaign literature, or make any type of contribution, monetary or otherwise, to a political campaign. On the other hand, IRC § 501(c)(3) organizations are allowed to conduct activities that are not related to elections, such as issue advocacy, lobbying for or against legislation, and supporting or opposing the appointment of individuals to non-elective offices.

    Political leaders who spout out random thoughts as facts without even checking the details first are useless at best.

  • Anonymous

    Why hasn’t anyone looked into Andrews life. As a Christen he says he is, and he all for our freedom, ask him about, drugs, attacking 11yr old because they made a joke, doesn’t believe in JULY 4 because his-our life is so bad, “I trained my wife so good she makes the money” is this what you want to make your state better?