By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Conservative Catholic activists today criticized the Obama administration for including gay activist Harry Knox on the faith advisory council of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships because of his remarks about Catholicism.
In a telephone press conference this morning, leaders of a coalition that wants to oust Knox from the faith panel took him to task for what they saw as insults to their religion. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said Knox of the Human Rights Campaign is demonizing “the pope and Catholics who believe in traditional marriage.”
We’ll detail Knox’s comments in a minute. But the hubbub is part of a larger picture: Leaders of the very conservative side of the church are taking on the Obama administration. They are upset by a number of moves, including Obama’s appointment of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, and his decision to allow increased funding of embryonic stem cell research (plus plenty of others that critics believe go against the teachings of the Catholic church). Obama’s speech on Sunday at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement has stirred up activism. Now attention is being focused on Knox’s remarks.
Among Knox’s comments were a March 17 statement criticizing the pope for his condemnation of condoms and their role in the fight against AIDS in Africa. “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,” said Knox, of the Human Rights Campaign’s religion & faith program. “On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV, it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods.” As well, critics are taking issue with what they see as anti-pope images on HRC’s Web site, endthelies.org
Knox is on vacation, but HRC spokesman Brad Luna called Knox “one of the most loving, generous souls” and that critics are “engaging in divisive political games.”
This fight isn’t over.