Atheists, Religious Abuse Support Group Team Up to Sue Church
It's been a busy year for atheists, and they're not, as you might expect, slowing down for the holidays. NYC Atheists has been charging forward on many fronts in 2009, from letting people know you can be good without God on busses, to taking its message to the streets en Espanol.
And now, the group has brought an early Christmas gift to the Diocese of Brooklyn, in the form of a pair of lawsuits.
Their aim? To strip the diocese of its non-profit status.
The lawsuits allege that, in exchange for Kings County Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez's opposition to the Child Sex Victims Act of New York -- a bill that would have extended the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse and could have cost the church millions -- Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio illegally endorsed Lopez's minion. He did so by recording a robo-call on behalf of Maritza Davila, who was Lopez's handpicked choice in a failed bid against Diana Reyna for City Council.
According to the Daily News, the two suits filed Thursday ask a judge to revoke the Diocese's tax-exempt status, charging the calls violated IRS rules that bar tax-exempt groups from "directly or indirectly, supporting political candidates."
Ironically, the New York City Atheists teamed up for the lawsuits with Road to Recovery, a religious support group for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, led by a priest. The Brooklyn Eagle reports that the theologically differing groups met "while protesting side-by-side in front of St. Patrick's Church on Fifth Avenue during a recent visit by Pope Benedict XVI," and teamed up, according to NYC Atheists' president, "to make a stronger statement."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.