In the end, I think it was the sweeping nature that did it in. The Mass. House of Representatives last night voted down a bill that would have placed onerous financial disclosure requirements on all churches. The impetus behind the bill was disgruntled Catholic and pro-gay politicians who are mad at the Church for (1) the Scandal and (2) opposing gay marriage. But because they couldn’t aim the bill only at the Church, they made it apply generally to all churches.
To recap, the bill would have required all religious organizations to file detailed annual financial reports with the state. This would have placed a huge bureaucratic and financial burden not just on the Catholic dioceses—because every single parish would have to file individually—but also on the hundreds of small Protestant churches.
The whole way, the Boston Globe tried to paint a picture of this bill having widespread support. In the end it was defeated 147 to 3. Yeah, lots of support there.
What doomed it was what every critic said from the beginning: it would never pass constitutional muster. The first federal judge to see it would have struck it down. That’s one little victory in the People’s Republic for the forces of democracy. Will we see more?