Open Season: NH Lawmakers hurl names at bishop, threaten to tax Catholic Church

What is this, open season on the Catholic Church? The Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire need to cool off. I’ve been watching this situation get worse day by day:

Leading conservative leaders began to step in Wednesday to try and quell the simmering controversy over House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt’s attack against Roman Catholic Bishop John McCormack as a “pedophile pimp.”

While Bettencourt has apologized for his comments and plans to meet privately with McCormack today, other GOP lawmakers have picked up the assault. Fremont Republican Rep. Timothy Comerford said McCormack is a “corrupt scumbag in my book,” in comments he posted online at the New Hampshire Union Leader website.

Meanwhile, Derry Republican Rep. Andrew Manuse said he would consider seeking legislation to strip the Catholic Church in New Hampshire of its tax-exempt status and accused McCormack of breaking the law by speaking out against the House budget last week.

Manuse backed off later, saying he has no plans to seek such legislation and said his comments were “completely overblown.” (Nashua Telegraph)

“Completely overblown”? Here’s exactly what Rep. Manuse emailed to Bill Donohue:

“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.”

There’s no room for confusion here.

Behaving immaturely in public is irresponsible enough, but threatening the Church’s tax status (i.e., livelihood) is even worse … especially when the threat comes from lawmakers once they get upset that people are calling them out for their anti-Catholic rants.

In other words, how is it that Rep. Manuse is fine with punishing the entire Catholic Church in New Hampshire over his personal dislike for the Archbishop there? That’s why I feel free to classify this as anti-catholic behavior, since evidently Rep. Manuse sees fit to threaten all Catholics in the state, making this more than a personal (immature) dust-up.

Rep. Bettencourt is going to visit the Archbishop (to apologize further, I presume). Reps Manuse, Comerford and Lynne Ober (that I know of) should hitch a ride with him.



  • Jim

    Just Great! Now McCormack is going to bail into pensionland (he is already past the mandatory retirement age) and his poor successor is step right into the frying pan.

  • Chris Ryland

    Let’s face it, the Church should give up its tax-exempt status and then be able to preach whatever it needs to preach.

    Time for Catholics to “man up” and tithe no matter what the tax implications.

  • Brian C

    Should RH in title be changed to NH?

  • Bill

    I used to teach C.C.D. and I would have to reach back to “pagan times” to find examples of Catholics being persecuted. Now we can read a report or look out the window. And why is this occurring? Because we have a pope who is appointing real bishops who are teaching true Catholic doctrine.The reaction is so violent because the American public is not used to this and they feel we are “breaking the rules”. The day of reckoning is here for we are clearly violating what de Toqueville called the “Common Opinion”.
    This opinion, which is constantly changing, is how a democracy determines its folkways and mores.

    • James D

      It’s not the fact that the bishops are teaching the Catholic faithful that is the problem. It’s the fact that the Bishops have entered the public square and are demonizing hardworking American citizens and advocating laws that disrespectfully force Catholic beliefs and morality on others.

      • Bruce

        James, do know what the issue was? And after you tell us that, can you enlighten us as to this issue is the sole property of the Catholic Church? I’ll wait around for your response, but I’m not holding my breath. Knowledge is power, James, and you are in sore need. :)

      • MikeM

        That’s exactly it, isn’t it. Your side just can’t handle that anyone would dare to express differing views from yours in the “public square,” which, by the way, is exactly what the first amendment guarantees the right to do.

        • James D

          I didn’t say the Church wasn’t free to speak about whatever it wants. It and it’s members certainly are and I cherish that right. However, other people have the same rights. When you purposefully aggravate other people and advocate depriving groups of American citizens their civil rights, be prepared for them to speak (and act) against you.

          • Thomas Peters

            “And Act”? That’s shameful. ALL people are deserving of respect and dignity. ALL PEOPLE. Catholic Bishops included. Being for natural (one-man, one-woman) marriage is not depriving anyone of anything. The fact that proponents of redefining marriage are willing to resort to name calling and intimidation – and ACTUAL ACTS of violence – shows they have no arguments behind their demands. Period.

      • Jimmy

        How is this different from pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage activists forcing anti-Catholic beliefs and “morality” on us? You don’t seem to have a problem with that. And your side goes beyond disrespectful into the realm of bigotry and hate.

    • K. Manning

      You didn’t have to look back that far to see persecution of Catholics, Bill. It has been happening in Ireland for centuries and continues in Northern Ireland today. In the 19th century anti-Catholicism was huge (more violent and explicit; it still occurs today of course) in America. The Know-Nothing Party and the KKK are just two groups that tried to stamp out us papists.

  • TrueCatholic

    “Bishop” not “Archbishop”

  • Cindy

    If they just taxed the Catholic church and similar church’s that lobby anyways, then they could just lobby more. Maybe it’s a good thing. Anymore, I am not so sure I am really against taxing church’s. Why should they be sepearted from it? They lobby hard just as any individual. So why not tax them? Maybe your Republicans have it right.

    • Gordon Zaft

      The problem with taxing churches is that it gives the State the possibility/opportunity of controlling religion. That’s forbidden by the Bill of Rights.



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