Commentary

The Politics of Anti-Catholicism

Bill Donohue
By Bill Donohue | May 16, 2018 | 10:52 AM EDT

Dr. Robert Jeffress gives opening prayer at the U.S. Embassy dedication in Jerusalem. (Screenshot)

We at the Catholic League know better than anyone how incredibly hypocritical many of today's anti-defamation pundits, activists, and entertainers are. We see it every day. Things are said about Catholicism that would never be said about a long list of protected demographic classes. The latest example is the media coverage of Pastor Robert Jeffress who gave a prayer at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

I have called Jeffress out several times for his anti-Catholic remarks. “Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn't come from God's word,” he said in 2010. “It comes from that cult-like pagan religion. Isn't that the genius of Satan?” This is only a slice of his bigoted commentary on Catholicism.

Jeffress has also made disparaging remarks about Judaism, Mormonism, Islam, and Hinduism. During the past week, most of the major media outlets mentioned his anti-Jewish statements, and some cited his comments on the other religions. But few had anything to say about his anti-Catholicism.

Among the guilty are the New York Times, the Associated Press, Religion News Service, PBS, Politico, and Time. Those who fairly covered Jeffress' litany of bigoted remarks were CNN and the Washington Post.

No media outlet was more hypocritical than Irish Central, a forum of proud Irishmen and lame Catholics. “Trump invited vicious anti-Catholic to bless new US Embassy in Israel,” the headline screamed. This feigned outrage had nothing to do with protesting bigotry—it was a shot against Trump.

 

Jeffress' remarks smack of ignorance, but they pale in their “viciousness” to what Dan Savage has said about Catholicism. His comments are so obscene that it is almost impossible to quote him without using asterisks in place of letters to convey his hatred. Guess who loves this bigot? Irish Central.

Savage can trash the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, popes, cardinals, and priests—in the most vile way—and Irish Central will always stand by their man. It is Trump they hate, not anti-Catholicism.

Politics should not play a role in opposing bigotry. To intentionally defame or treat any person or group of persons unfairly should not be tolerated, and it should not depend on whose ox is being gored.

That is why the Catholic League strongly objected to the anti-Catholic comments recently ascribed to Rep. Paul Ryan's chief of staff. Ryan is a good Catholic and a strong proponent of the rights of the unborn, but we cannot allow his good deeds to impede our mission. We are not the Catholic arm of the Republicans or the Democrats. We are happily independent of both.

Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.

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