Charging that the Catholic Church should lose its tax-exempt status, a consortium of atheists and Catholic activists filed two lawsuits against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) and the Catholic Diocese over their role in producing a recorded message sent to Williamsburg’s registered voters less than a week before they went to the polls.
Led by NYC Atheists President Kenneth Bronstein and New Jersey-based priest abuse activist Reverend Robert Hoatson, the suits allege that DiMarzio violated Internal Revenue Service laws by recording a political message sent to voters in a hotly contested City Council election, which could cost the Church privileges enjoyed by its nonprofit status.
“This is the first step to accomplish what we want to accomplish: get the Church out of politics,” said John Aretakis, a spokesperson for the group.
The lawsuit arises from reaction to a series of pre-recorded messages that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio made on October 28, to voters in the city’s 34th Council District, thanking Lopez for his work advocating for the Catholic Church during the past year and urging voters to support his choices in the election.
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