Conservative Catholics Want an Obama Faith Council Member Fired

Conservative Catholic groups say Obama faith council member Harry Knox is an anti-Catholic bigot.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Conservative Roman Catholic activists have launched a campaign to remove a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, alleging that he's a "virulent anti-Catholic bigot."

The groups say that Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign—the nation's largest gay rights group—has a paper trail of anti-Catholic statements.

The activists, including the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, the Family Research Council's Chuck Donovan, and the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell, hosted a conference call this morning and released a letter to President Obama demanding that Knox be booted. (House Minority Leader John Boehner was among the signers.)

I asked the Catholic League for a catalog of Knox's alleged anti-Catholic statements and have pasted it below. What do you think? Are these statements anti-Catholic or, as Knox's defenders say, merely critical of the Roman Catholic Church?

The White House isn't commenting on the campaign, but Human Rights Campaign spokesman Brad Luna says: "Harry Knox is one of the most loving, generous souls whose faith and commitment to religious diversity is unparalleled. These critics are engaging in divisive political games that at the end of the day do nothing to reduce abortions, foster healthy families, and promote responsible fatherhood, issues Harry cares deeply about."

Here are Knox's allegedly anti-Catholic statements as presented by the Catholic League: 

—On March 17, two weeks before his appointment to the advisory council, Knox published a statement on the Human Rights Campaign Web site in reaction to Pope Benedict XVI's remarks concerning condoms and AIDS in Africa. The statement partly reads: "The Pope's statement that condoms don't help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus. . . . On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV, it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods. The pope's rejection of scientifically proven prevention methods is forcing Catholics in Africa to choose between their faith and the health of their entire community. Jesus was about helping the marginalized and downtrodden, not harming them further."

—In reference to a bishop's instruction that a lesbian couple in Cheyenne, Wy., could not receive communion at the Catholic Mass, Knox, in an Apr. 6, 2007 statement on the HRC's Web site, wrote: "In this holy Lenten season, it is immoral and insulting to Jesus to use the body and blood of Christ the reconciler as a weapon to silence free speech and demean the love of a committed, legally married couple. . . . The Human Rights Campaign grieves with the couple, Leah Vader and Lynn Huskinson, over this act of spiritual and emotional violence perpetrated against them."

—In reaction to the Vatican's refusal to sign a U.N. agreement that called for decriminalizing homosexuality and equating all sexual orientations, Knox and the HRC signed a statement with other pro-homosexual groups that read, in part: "As faith leaders we were shocked by Vatican opposition to this proposed initiative . . . By refusing to sign a basic statement opposing inhumane treatment of LGPT people, the Vatican is sending a message that violence and human rights abuses against LGBT people are acceptable. Many are speaking out against this immoral stance in the name of religion."

—In March 2009, the HRC launched a new, interactive Web site called designed "to confront right-wing lies and distortions repeatedly used to defeat LGBT equality measures." The wall features an image of Pope Benedict XVI and this statement: "Pope Benedict XVI has called same-sex relationships 'a destruction of God's work,' opposed a U.N. resolution decriminalizing homosexuality, and claimed in March 2009 that the use of condoms increases HIV infections."

—Mar. 19, 2009: The Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco quoted Knox as following, "The Knights of Columbus do a great deal of good in the name of Jesus Christ, but in this particular case [Proposition 8], they were foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression.

—The newspaper further reported: "Knox noted that the Knights of Columbus 'followed discredited leaders,' including bishops and Pope Benedict XVI. 'A pope who literally today said condoms don't help in control of AIDS.'"

—Knox told that he "absolutely" stands by his criticism of the pope. "The Pope needs to start telling the truth about condom use," Knox said on Monday, Apr. 6. "We are eager to help him do that. Until he [Pope Benedict] is willing to do that and able, he's doing a great deal more harm than good - not just in Africa but around the world. It is endangering people's lives."

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