Boehner Says We Can't Have 'Anti-Catholic Bigot' in White House, Calls for Obama Adviser to Resign

By Karen Schuberg | February 4, 2010 | 5:17 PM EST

( - House Minority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio) said today that Harry Knox, who serves on President Barack Obama’s faith-based advisory council, appears to be an “anti-Catholic bigot” and should resign as a White House adviser.

Earlier this week, Knox said he stood by a statement he made last year that Pope Benedict XVI is “hurting people in the name of Jesus” because the pope does not support promoting the use of condoms as a means to stem the spread of HIV.

Knox, who is director of the Human Rights Campaign's religion and faith program, has made other controversial comments about the Catholic Church in the past. For example, in 2007 he was quoted in a statement from the Human Rights Campaign saying that the Catholic Church had committed an act that was “immoral and insulting  to Jesus” when it denied communion to a lesbian couple in Wyoming who had promoted same-sex marriage. “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,” said Knox.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) describes itself as the nation's "largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization." President Obama was the keynote speaker at the HRC's annual national dinner in October.
St. Michael Society, a Catholic organization, started an online petition calling for Knox to resign from his position on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. asked Boehner at his press briefing Thursday whether he believed that Knox should resign.
“He should resign. And I have agreed to sign a letter,” said Boehner. “We can’t have in the White House an anti-Catholic bigot, and that’s what this gentleman appears to be.”
Boehner is a Roman Catholic.

At the National Press Club on Tuesday, had asked Knox: “You put out a statement saying Pope Benedict XVI was—quote—‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’ because he did not support promoting the use of condoms as a means to control the spread of HIV.  And I was wondering, do you still believe the pope’s position on condoms is ‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’?”
Knox answered, “I—I do.”

Knox had originally said the Pope was “hurting people in the name of Jesus” in March 2009, shortly before he became a member of President Obama’s advisory council.
On March 17, 2009, Pope Benedict had flown to Africa to visit Cameroon and Angola. During the flight, the Pope answered several questions from reporters, including one concerning AIDS in Africa: Given that the Catholic Church’s position in fighting AIDS “is often considered unrealistic and ineffective,” would the pope “address this theme during the journey?”
The Pope responded by detailing many of the Church’s humanitarian efforts to help people with AIDS in Africa. “I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is,” he said. “If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help [by responsible behavior], the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it.”
On the same day as the pope's remarks, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued the statement that quoted Harry Knox as follows: “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,” said Knox in the statement. “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.”
Harry Knox spoke with at a press conference about the “American Prayer Hour,” a new, multi-city event designed to "affirm inclusive values and call on all nations, including Uganda, to decriminalize the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."