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Broken and healed

Religion | John Rowland says fraud conviction and losing office helped lead him into a far greater Kingdom

Issue: "Demsnami," Nov. 4, 2006

It starts with something small, a favor," says former Connecticut governor John Rowland. "Then it becomes a job for somebody else, a relative. It starts with this small entitlement mentality and then it gets out of control."

Rowland resigned from office in July 2004 and then spent 10 months in the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pa., after pleading guilty to fraud charges. He admitted that contractors for the state paid for work at his private cottage, and that they also paid for vacation trips and other gifts. He now says that his downfall "was the best thing that ever happened to me."

That's because the three-term governor's brokenness over his transgressions pushed him to trust Christ to forgive him and save him from his sins. Now he is telling his story to churches and civic groups, explaining how "the arrogance of power" so easily penetrates the political and business worlds and takes down promising, talented leaders.

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He confesses that he lied at a December 2003 press conference about the work done on his home. As public criticism escalated, he reconnected with Pastor Will Marotti, who reached out to the governor in the midst of his scandal and offered to pray with him. The pair had become acquainted the previous year when Rowland accepted an invitation from the pastor to participate in a rally at his church to support U.S. troops in Iraq.

They began to meet regularly after the press conference, and Rowland began attending Marotti's church. The pastor encouraged the governor to apologize publicly for lying, and Rowland did so with his wife by his side in January 2004. The following month he prayed to receive Christ.

Rowland, still having to deal with the consequences of his actions, went to prison the following year, and then he helped fellow prisoners learn job and interview skills. He now tells of the lessons he learned and the pitfalls that come with political power.

Bulletin Board

IRAQ: Muslim kidnappers tortured and killed Syrian Orthodox priest Paulos Iskandar in Mosul, Iraq, in October, church officials reported. Three other Iraqi priests threatened with death by the same group went into hiding. The Muslims beheaded Iskandar, 57, father of four, and cut off his hands and feet just two days following his capture, and after his church had raised $40,000 of the $250,000 ransom. Toma Dawod, new archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Britain, said that another 5,000 Christian families have fled Iraq since the murder. "We are crying for the Saddam time," he said. "In Saddam's time, people could not hit Christians."

The Iraq War also has many of the country's more than 1 million Assyrian Christians, or Chaldeans, on the run. Before the U.S. invasion in 2003, they made up an estimated 5 percent of the population. But they now account for about 40 percent of Iraqi refugees, most fleeing to Jordan and Iraq, according to United Nations officials.

LAW: New York's highest court ruled in a 3-2 decision that the Catholic Church and other religious organizations must provide for prescription contraception in employee health-insurance plans. The decision upheld a lower court ruling that rejected a religious exemption to the 2002 Women's Health and Wellness Act. Catholic officials argued that a religious organization "must have the right in American society to uphold its own teachings." They warned the way is now open for legislation to force Catholic groups to pay for employees' abortions.

-Edward E. Plowman

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