House Rejects Legislation for Disclosure of Religious Funds

January 26, 2006

Source: The Boston Globe

On January 26, 2006 The Boston Globe reported, "The Massachusetts House yesterday overwhelmingly defeated legislation that would have required religious organizations to file annual financial reports with the state, dealing a major blow to lawmakers who had said they wanted to make churches and other religious groups more accountable to the public. By a lopsided vote of 147 to 3, the House shot down the measure after an intense lobbying campaign against the bill by a wide range of religious organizations, including the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. Just days before, supporters were predicting victory and hoping to capture enough votes to override a probable veto by Governor Mitt Romney... The bill would have required all religious organizations to file limited information about their finances and real estate holdings annually with the attorney general's charities division, and would have mandated that any organization with annual revenues of more than $500,000 to file detailed financial reports every year. The legislation, which generated scores of phone calls and e-mails to legislators in recent weeks, was seen as a major test of the Catholic Church's influence on Beacon Hill. But the Catholic Church was just one of many religious groups that warned lawmakers that the bill would lead to an unwarranted and costly intrusion by the state into the practice of religion."