More Conservatives Urge Obama to Withdraw His ‘Anti-Religious’ Faith-Based Nominee

By Fred Lucas | April 14, 2009 | 9:33 AM EDT

( - President Barack Obama’s controversial appointee to the White House faith-based advisory council -- a professed gay Christian who has called the pope a “discredited leader” -- continues to rile conservatives.
In the week since Obama named Harry Knox to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Catholic League expressed its frustration, a leading House Republican called for Obama to withdraw the appointment, and the Gingrich family – the former House speaker and his lesbian activist sister -- had a public spat over the matter.
Knox comes to the administration from the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual advocacy group. His recent comments to a San Francisco-based gay newspaper have prompted much of the concern.
Last month, the Bay Area Reporter quoted Knox as criticizing the Knights of Columbus for supporting California’s Proposition 8, a voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Knox told the newspaper that the Knights of Columbus “followed discredited leaders,” including Roman Catholic bishops and Pope Benedict XVI.

Those comments prompted GOP House Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) to call on Obama to withdraw the Knox appointment. (See earlier story)
“Without question, Mr. Knox is a divisive figure,” Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and former Ohio secretary of state, told “He has said some hurtful things. That seems at cross purposes to what the commission is trying to achieve.”
Blackwell agreed with Rep. Pence that Obama should withdraw Knox’s appointment. “I think Congressman Pence is spot-on in his comments and concerns,” Blackwell said, although he doubts those concerns will sway the White House: “I’m sure the president and the White House will give the request a glance and move on,” Blackwell added.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a recent Catholic convert, said the Knox appointment is part of Obama’s “intensely secular” and “anti-religious” agenda.
“Why would you put an anti-religious, left-wing zealot on a faith-based council?” Gingrich asked on Fox News last week. “It’s a perfect pattern for this administration.”
That set off Newt Gingrich’s sister, Candace Gingrich, a homosexual rights activist who defended Knox in an op-ed on the Huffington Post. “I don’t take kindly to bullies,” she told her brother.
“To say that Harry is anti-religious is ruthlessly absurd,” Candace Gingrich wrote. “I know Harry and can say without hesitation that he is a devout Christian who believes deeply in the teachings of the Bible. He has studied and knows it calls for us to work for the common good.”
Candace Gingrich also defended Knox’s comments about the pope.
“And by the way, Harry’s comments about the pope that have been so vilified by right-wingers, including my brother, were spot-on,” Candace Gingrich continued. “It is preposterous to say that condoms worsen the spread of AIDS.”
When Knox worked for Freedom to Marry in Pennsylvania, he had a debate with the Rev. Gino Jennings in November 2004 at Jennings’ church in Philadelphia.
Knox argued that scriptures condemning homosexuality are incorrect, while Jennings insisted that every word in the Bible is inspired by God.
“Considering the so-called Faith Based Council, I mean, the question is, what are they supposed to have faith in? If they really have faith in God or faith in scripture, then judging from what he (Knox) stands for and believes, they would not have selected him,” Jennings told last week. “To use religion as a cover-up to justify sin is a real contradiction.”
Though critical, Jennings said Knox is sincere in his faith, yet misguided.
“Any time a man will tell me he was under the anointing of the Lord when he was with his gay partner, he’s convinced,” Jennings said. “He really is very delusional. A man don’t need no moving from God to permit an abominable act, any more than an arsonist needs an act from God to burn down a building. Right or wrong is a choice.”

Jennings wouldn’t say whether he thinks Obama should withdraw the Knox appointment. But he did say the appointment raises questions about the president. 

“I’m not saying that a person can’t hold a job because he is gay. That would be equal to saying a person can’t hold a job because he’s black or because he’s white,” Jennings said. “But if his objective in the midst of this position is to push his gay agenda, then what that does is actually challenges President Obama’s faith in Jesus.
“Will he enforce or sway the council toward his personal beliefs, his gay agenda?” Jennings wondered. “And if this is something he will try to do, it will be hypocritical of them to set back and say nothing and do nothing just because he is a member of the council.”
As previously reported, Knox is one of 25 members of the advisory board of the White House Office Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Obama announced the formation of the office in early February, a continuation of a similar office started by President George W. Bush to issue federal grants to faith-based, non-profit, charitable organizations.
See earlier stories:
Obama Names Pope-Basher to Faith-Based Initiative Board
Obama’s Christian Appointee to Faith-Based Program Says New Testament Teaching on Homosexuality Is ‘Not True’
Pence Calls on Obama to Withdraw Pope-Basher’s Appointment to Faith-Based Program