Winter 1999

Winter 1999

Catholic Contributions

Boston Catholics: A History of the Church and Its People By Thomas H. O’Connor Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1998, 357 pages. Does religion constitute an important public resource? Are churches part of a state’s “common wealth?” It depends on the religion, one might respond. O.K., so what about Catholicism, this state’s most important religion? Was–is–the(...)

Read More »

What to Do About the Poor

“It’s 1834 in the town of Sturbridge,” announces moderator Jim O’Brien from the podium at the front of the Center Meeting House. Actually, it’s a cool October night in 1998 at Old Sturbridge Village, but the 100 or so town meeting moderators from around Massachusetts are being asked to go back in time and imagine(...)

Read More »

A Moderator with Staying Power

When he was 22 years old, John D. Walsh Jr., a genial collector of insurance premiums, was elected town moderator in Pembroke. Since then, at every town meeting for the past 48 years, Mr. Walsh has served as moderator, host, and master of ceremonies. His tenure is unparalleled among members of the Massachusetts Moderators Association,(...)

Read More »

The Harshbarger Administration Well Never Know

“We’ll see if he’s going loony left.” – House Speaker Thomas Finneran, Sept. 16, 1998, when asked if he would be endorsing Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, the Democratic candidate for governor. Nov. 3, 1998: Scott Harshbarger is elected governor. Places congratulatory call to newly elected governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, the Reform Party candidate and(...)

Read More »

Civic Culture and Good Government

Massachusetts is a state high in civic participation and government performance, according to a measure devised by two academic researchers. Tom W. Rice of Iowa State University and Alexander F. Sumberg of the University of Vermont have come up with a “civic culture index” that ranks Massachusetts as the second most civic state in the(...)

Read More »

Will Massachusetts Have Clean Elections

Events of 1998 proved that Massachusetts voters do not agree with their elected officials on the role of money in politics. A proposed “Clean Elections” law calling for public financing of candidates was rejected last year by the Legislature. House Speaker Thomas Finneran said it would be a “frivolous” use of taxpayer money to fund(...)

Read More »

Articles of Faith

Faith and politics mix in fascinating and sometimes fruitful ways. People of religious faith can bring moral uplift into the sometimes tawdry world of politics, and people of political faith can bring passion and conviction to social causes. But there is something about politics that is on guard against the ways of faith. It’s not(...)

Read More »

Education, Religion, and Prayer

Reverend Eugene Rivers and writer Wendy Kaminer cross swords over the separation of church and state, the plight of public schools, and the power of prayer

There are many quiet, noncontroversial, apolitical members of the clergy in Massachusetts–but the Rev. Eugene Rivers is not one of them. As one of the founders of Boston’s Ten Point Coalition, Rivers has been on the forefront of the battle to stop gang violence and delinquency in the city, a cause that has won him(...)

Read More »

The Chaplain is in the House

It’s one of those little-discussed State House mysteries: Why does the House of Representatives have a chaplain who starts each day’s session with a prayer, while the Senate has no regular cleric and rarely prays together? Are representatives more spiritual than their senatorial counterparts? Or does the House simply require more divine inspiration–or intervention–than the(...)

Read More »

The AntiAid Amendment

Every time the debate over public financing of private and religious schools heats up in Massachusetts, we hear the same legal arguments from each side of the debate: Funding advocates claim the state’s ban on government aid to private and parochial schools was motivated by 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry and has no place in contemporary law.(...)

Read More »