by Ed Dunn - published by Norwich Bulletin on March 8, 2007
JEWETT CITY -- Bill Russell of Norwich is an atheist and he was none too pleased last winter when he visited Jewett City and heard the chimes of the Jewett City Baptist Church.
The music was playing on a system owned and installed in the church by the town. Russell said the chimes should be shut down, citing a violation of the principle of separation of church and state.
Russell's complaint set off a flap that made its way to The New York Times and, Tuesday night, to Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."
On "The Daily Show," Russell's comments were interspersed by host Samantha Bee with comments of former basketball star Bill Russell.
It was either very confusing or hilarious.
Jewett City resident Phil Anthony, co-owner of Anthony's Hardware in Jewett City, was a participant in the segment, and he held his own quite handily against the professional comedian and "investigative reporter" Bee.
"I'd seen 'The Daily Show,' so I was wary," Anthony said.
Regarding the chimes, Anthony told Bee, "There's nothing illegal about them. In fact, I would invite litigation."
Anthony said he and other local business people had offered to buy the chimes and give them back to the church if the church-state issue became problematic.
The show's producer said Anthony supported the chimes playing in the borough "as if he were debating international law."
Anthony said he got a huge response from friends and relatives in Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Milwaukee.
People came and went Wednesday complimenting him on his appearance.
Griswold First Selectman Anne Hatfield said she had missed the show, but would try to catch it if it were rebroadcast.
"I've got to see it. I think I'm glad I wasn't on it," Hatfield said.
Kate Frazier of Canterbury works at the Movie Gallery in Jewett City.
She said she missed the show, but she would advise anyone from out of town who is offended at the chimes to leave, because most people enjoy the music.
"It gives a feeling of unity to those who enjoy it," Frazier said.
Brittany Weisberger, 15, of Jewett City attends Griswold Middle School.
She also didn't see the show.
But regarding the chimes, she said, "They're really beautiful. They are energizing and refreshing. It is a different and unique sound."