Obama’s Faith-Based Adviser Harry Knox Bashed Pope and Catholic Church For Many Years, Records Show
As reported on Feb. 2, Knox told CNSNews.com that he stands by his March 2009 statement that Pope Benedict XVI is “hurting people in the name of Jesus” by not condoning condom distribution as the solution to AIDS in Africa. “I do” still hold that view, said Knox.
Knox’s earlier, March 2009 statement about the Pope was posted on the Web site of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a homosexual activist group where Knox works as director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program.
The statement, posted two weeks before Knox was appointed to Obama’s Advisory Council, partly says: “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,” reads 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.”
Knox has issued other statements critical of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to sexuality. In April 2007, after a bishop’s instruction to a Wyoming lesbian couple to refrain from receiving Communion at the Catholic Mass, Knox said in an HRC statement: “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 Lynne Huskinson, over this act of spiritual and emotional violence perpetrated against them.”
After 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 says, 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 LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) 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 EndtheLies.org, http://www.hrc.org/endthelies/ which was designed “to confront right-wing lies and distortions repeatedly used to defeat LGBT equality measures.”
The interactive site depicted an image of Pope Benedict XVI on a wall and included 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.”
Also, last March, Knox said in the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter that, “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.”
In the gay newspaper, he included among the “discredited leaders” Catholic bishops and Pope Benedict XVI as “a Pope who literally today said condoms don’t help in control of AIDS.” In April 2009, Knox told CNSNews.com that he “absolutely” stands by his criticism of the pope. “The Pope needs to start telling the truth about condom use.” He continued, “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.”
In a debate with the Rev. Gino Jennings recorded on Nov. 28, 2004 at the First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Philadelphia, Knox told Jennings that St. Paul’s statement in the New Testament book of Romans about the unnaturalness of homosexuality is “not true.”
In reference to the passage where Paul writes, “Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion,” Knox told Jennings, “I do not believe it,” and added, “(t)hat is not true.”
Knox continued, “Paul did not have any idea of the kind of love that I feel for a partner when I am partnered. He didn’t know what that was about. The straight man, the heterosexual man who got the privilege of writing the book, the educated, rich, heterosexual man, Paul, who got to write the book, didn’t think it was natural because for him it must not have been.”
Knox has also criticized conservative mega-church pastor and best-selling author Rev. Rick Warren, who said a prayer at President Obama’s inauguration, because he does not support gay marriage.
In a December 2008 Huffington Post blog, Knox said Obama’s inauguration was “tainted” because Warren had been selected to say a prayer. Knox apparently was disappointed because the Rev. Warren supported the ballot initiative in California to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Writing in the Huffington Post blog, Knox said to Obama, “We don’t feel hopeful anticipation of a new day in our country, and we don’t feel optimism. We feel betrayed.”
On the PBS News Hour in December 2008, Knox said that Warren “has in fact leveraged homophobia to get ahead in his career. … This is the worst possible choice the president could have made. This is a divisive choice. … We said to the president-elect today in very strong language, the strongest we can think of and be respectful of the office, you have really slapped us. And we want you to think about that and think very hard what your actions will be going forward because this very symbolic, early decision has sent the exact wrong message.”The St. Michael Society, a Catholic group dedicated to “defending and promoting the faith in the public square,” has sponsored a petition calling for Knox’s resignation. The petition has garnered more than 7,700 signatures.
On Feb. 4, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is Catholic, told CNSNews.com that Knox appears to be an “anti-Catholic bigot” and should resign as a White House adviser.
“He should resign, and I have agreed to sign a letter” from the St. Michael Society, said Boehner. “We can’t have in the White House an anti-Catholic bigot, and that’s what this gentleman appears to be.”
The site says of the petition: “Some have asked if this was limited to Catholics. All are welcome. This petition is not just for Catholics, but for anyone who feels that Harry Knox’s anti-Catholic statements show that he lacks the ecumenical objectivity on which the Faith-Based Initiative is based, and therefore needs to resign.”
Knox is one of 25 members of the White Houses’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Obama announced the formation of the office last February, a continuation of a similar office started by President George W. Bush to issue federal grants to faith-based, non-profit charitable organizations.
Other members include Bishop Charles Blake of the Church of God in Christ in Chicago; the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churches USA; Dr. Frank Page, president emeritus of the Southern Baptist Convention; the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of the liberal Christian group Sojourners; and the Rev. Joel C. Hunter of Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.