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Atheist group plans suit against Brooklyn archdiocese

An atheist group plans to sue the Archdiocese of Brooklyn over robo-calls made by the bishop before the November election praising the borough’s Democratic boss.

Though Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) was not on the ballot this year, he did back a city council candidate against an incumbent and is a high-profile figure in the city’s political circles.

“This is a major separation of church and state issue,” said Kenneth Bronstein, president of New York City Atheists. “We don’t want religions to endorse candidates.”

Msgr. Kieran Harrington, an archdiocese spokesman, said the calls, recorded by Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio, were merely meant to thank Lopez for his opposition to a bill that would have eased restrictions on suing the church over sex abuse by clergy members. The bill did not pass.

Besides, Harrington noted, Lopez was a year away from his next election.

“We don’t endorse any candidates,” he said.

Bronstein’s group said it plans to file suit Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. In addition to the church-state argument, the group is asking that the church’s tax-exempt status be revoked.


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