(Editor’s Note: This is the second of a series of articles on President Barack Obama’s war on religion)
Bill Donohue’s Perspective: To learn more about Obama’s approach to religion, consider his base of religious friends. He sat for 20 years listening to Rev. Jeremiah “God-Damn-America” Wright.
A black liberation theologian, Wright is known for his racially inflammatory sermons; for example, he has accused Zionism of containing an element of “white racism.” He is so extreme that he even blamed the 9/11 attacks on American foreign policy.
Another clergyman Obama greatly admires is Rev. J. Alfred Smith Sr., an Oakland, Calif. pastor who was honored in 1975 by the violent Black Panther Party; in 1990, he was given an award by the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam. In Catholic circles, Obama’s favorite priest is Father Michael Pfleger, a race-baiting preacher from Chicago who has welcomed Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan to speak in his church.
It was in Obama’s first job where he cultivated his ties to the Catholic community. To be exact, he laid anchor with Catholic activists, not with Catholics in the pew.
In 1985, he took a job with a Saul Alinsky-trained community organizer; from then on his network with Catholic left-wing operatives would only expand. What he took from these contacts was not Catholicism; rather, it was how to work with the Catholic left to promote a radical agenda.
Those same associations paid a hefty dividend when it came time for Obama to launch his Catholic National Advisory Council in 2008. Quite frankly, Obama’s Catholic friends are almost all Catholic dissidents, at least on the major social issues. In the last presidential election, there wasn’t one of his 26 Catholic advisors who accepted the Catholic Church’s teachings on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and school vouchers. That almost all of them agreed 100 percent of the time with NARAL, the radical abortion organization, was hardly surprising.
True to form, the 2012 group, “Catholics for Obama,” is populated with dissidents like Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a staunch abortion-rights advocate who has a history of openly defying the Catholic Church. While this is hardly unusual anymore, it is still mind-boggling to learn that Catholic Democrats PAC is so queasy about orthodox Catholicism that it features a “Catholic League Watch” database online.
What scares them about the Catholic League remains a mystery.
Obama’s network of Catholic dissidents came into play when he selected Kathleen Sebelius as his Secretary of Health and Human Services. Her long-time involvement in the pro-abortion movement calls into serious question her status as a Catholic: Catholics can excommunicate themselves when they persistently and deliberately foster policies that are considered “intrinsically evil” by the Catholic Church; abortion is certainly one of those evils.
Sebelius was not simply a friend of George Tiller, the physician who specialized in killing babies who were 80 percent born — she raised money for him. So off-the-charts is Sebelius in her passion for abortion rights that she admits to never backing a single abortion-restricting law. For these reasons, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan. once advised her not to present herself for Holy Communion.
There are several other persons chosen by Obama who have had their problems with Catholicism. Harry Knox, a gay activist with the Human Rights Campaign, was appointed to serve on the Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
While Knox was denied ordination in the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ because he is a sexually active homosexual, it was his vile comments about the pope that garnered the most publicity at the time of his appointment.
For Knox, the pope is a liar who needs to “start telling the truth about condom use.” He even held the Holy Father accountable for “endangering people’s lives,” never explaining how someone who preaches abstinence could be held responsible for sexual recklessness. No matter, Knox also accused those who belong to the Knights of Columbus of being “foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression.”
Another gay activist who hates Catholicism is Kevin Jennings. A former drug user and irresponsible teen counselor, Jennings was chosen to be the Safe Schools Czar. He is also a Christian basher who belongs to an urban anti-Catholic group, ACT UP.
In 1989, activists from ACT UP stormed St. Patrick’s Cathedral during Mass; they chained themselves to the pews and spat the Eucharist on the floor. Predictably, Jennings is fond of lecturing Catholics about the Church’s teachings on sexuality, and for railing against the “hard core bigots” who comprise the “religious right.”
It was also the appointment of Chai Feldblum to join the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that made Christians wince. The Georgetown law professor was on record saying that in conflicts between religious liberty and sexual rights, the latter should triumph. Never mind that religious liberty is a First Amendment right and that sexual rights are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution — Feldblum was adamant in her conviction that religious freedom should bow to sexual rights.
Feldblum is actually more extreme than this: she signed a statement in 2006, “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” that is the most astounding assault on marriage ever written. Every conceivable “partnership” and “relationship” was deemed worthy of governmental and private recognition.
This means that both the public and the private sector must grant rights to “queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households.” Churches, obviously, would be expected to comply as they are part of the private sector.
It was not good enough for Obama to hire persons who reject Christian tenets or who speak coarsely about Christianity: he sought to hire activists who want to punish the Catholic Church.
His choice of Dawn Johnsen to be assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel proves this charge. Though she eventually withdrew her name from consideration — a contentious fight lasting more than a year precipitated her withdrawal — the former ACLU and NARAL lawyer should never have been nominated in the first place.
In the late 1980s, she cut her legal teeth by working on an ACLU lawsuit that sought to strip the Catholic Church of its tax-exempt status. We can only guess what she might have been up to had she gotten the job.
Obama’s allies in the gay rights community led him to oppose the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy on homosexuals in the military even before it was repealed.
Even more revealing, his steadfast refusal to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act shows how his commitment to the gay rights agenda trumps his duties as the nation’s chief executive.
It also explains his support for gay marriage. In the 1990s, while running for the Illinois state senate, he said, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriage, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” However, when he ran for the U.S. senate in 2004, he backed away from this position, and did so again when running for president in 2008.
This was pure posturing: in 2008, he opposed Proposition 8 in California affirming marriage between a man and a woman showing his true colors. In 2012, he reverted back to his original support for the right of two men to marry.
(The third article in this series will address “Obama’s Secular Policies”)
Dr. William Donohue is the president of and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. The publisher of the Catholic League journal, Catalyst, Bill is a former Bradley Resident Scholar at the Heritage Foundation and served for two decades on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars. The author of five books, two on the ACLU, and the winner of several teaching awards and many awards from the Catholic community, Donohue has appeared on thousands of television and radio shows speaking on civil liberties and social issues.
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