Say what you will about Capitol TV enjoying a $1.5 million budget to cover the part-time General Assembly; that’s a policy decision that the legislature can either grapple with, or not. But constitutionally speaking, I wonder if it shouldn’t be producing documentaries on local religious institutions?
Check out this four-part, hour-long documentary posted to YouTube called “Catholic School Day at the State House” It was created by Capitol TV and posted to the RISenate YouTube channel.
Here’s how the doc is defined on YouTube:
Capitol TV has put together a 60-minute special on the celebration of Catholic Schools Day in Rhode Island which was held at the State House on Thursday, March 10. There are several performances by Catholic school students; a variety of interviews by Capitol TV’s Dave Barber with elected officials, students, and others gathered in the rotunda of the State House for the event; and full coverage of the ceremony held that afternoon in the State Room.
Officials who participated in the State House’s celebration of Catholic Schools Day in Rhode Island include President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), House Majority Leader Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston), and Representative Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick).
Host Dave Barber asks questions such as this one of the principal of local Catholic high school: “This is really an honor for me because when I first moved to state of Rhode Island I heard a lot of good things about Bishop Hendricken school and I have the principal with me today … you have to be proud of your achievements and accomplishments at Hendricken.”
This isn’t exactly the probing questioning of public service journalism, it’s more like an infomercial.
Unless it is providing equal access to other religious institutions in Rhode Island, I would guess this is a pretty clear violation of the establishment clause of the Constitution, or what most people know as the separation of church and state (SOCS). That doesn’t mean Capitol TV needs to do a doc on the Quaker and Protestant schools in the state, too. But if other religions were honored at the State House, I would think they would want to make a documentary on that too.
I couldn’t find any other documentaries on religious institutions on the RISenate YouTube channel.
Capitol TV, it should be noted, has been in the news this week for not providing equal access to Republicans. In the most Catholic state in America, one has to wonder if it hasn’t done the same when it comes to religion.