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05/13/2009

Harry Knox: 'Church Defamer'

by Jeremy Hooper

200905131602-1April of 2007: A Wyoming couple was barred from taking communion because of their marriage equality advocacy. This prompted the Human Rights Campaign's Harry Knox to say:

“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.”
Human Rights Campaign Responds To Catholic Church Barring Same-Sex Couple From Receiving ‘The Body Of Christ’ [HRC]

And he was right: It is insulting to use communion as a political weapon. Harry said so not because he's anti-Catholic or anti-Jesus -- he said so because he's pro-both!

December of 2008: The Vatican opposed an initiative to decriminalize homosexuality. This prompted Harry Knox to say:

“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 people, the Vatican is sending a message that violence and human rights abuses against LGBT people are acceptable. Most Catholics, and indeed most Catholic teachings, tell us that all people are entitled to live with basic human dignity without the threat of violence. The Catholics we know believe that Scripture asks us to be our brother and our sister's keeper. Many are speaking out against this immoral stance in the name of religion.
Faith Leaders from LGBT Groups Issue Joint Statement Denouncing Vatican, Supporting UN Resolution [HRC]

And he was right: The casual support of worldwide criminalization does, quite demonstrably, foster human rights abuses. And the only way to create change is to take a stand for peace, in hopes that this peace will catch on. Harry said this not because he's anti-Catholic or anti-Jesus -- he said so because he's pro-both!

March of 2009: Pope Benedict tried to defend the church's anti-contraception stance by saying that condoms increase rates of HIV infection. Harry Knox responded by saying:

“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,” said Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion & Faith Program. “On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV, it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods. 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.”
Human Rights Campaign Responds to Pope Benedict’s Remarks that Condoms Increase HIV Infections [HRC]

And he was right: Discouraging condom use is disturbingly short-sided, and undeniably puts people at risk. And it's more than fair to say "in the name of Jesus," because that is the source from whom the Pope is claiming to glean his views. Harry said this not because he's anti-Catholic or anti-Jesus -- he said so because he's pro-both!

May of 2009: The reliably disingenuous gay-shunners at the Concerned Women For America see an opportunity to attack gays, President 200905131603Obama, the Human Rights Campaign, and the truth about sexual orientation in one failure of a swoop. So they seize on Mr. Knox's aforementioned words, strip them off all complexity, de-contextualize the scenarios, and then repurpose Harry's words in order to say the following:

Here we go again. President Obama's brilliant strategy for reaching faith-based groups to strengthen community work is to appoint a church defamer as one of his advisors. Pro-homosexual activist Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign is one of President Obama's latest appointments to join his Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Among Knox's many credentials is the fact that he accused Pope Benedict XVI of "insulting Jesus," saying the Catholic Church is "hurting people in the name of Jesus" and promoting "violence and human rights abuses" against homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders.

Wow! Hurting people in the name of Jesus? Is that what the president believes? You would think President Obama would respect the Catholic Church's work against poverty, or its stand against racism in the civil rights movement, for example. Yet, with this appointment he insults not only Catholics, but all Christians.

Yes, that's right: Because Harry Knox has been brave enough to stand against various injustices so as to support the faith that he loves, the anti-gay social conservatives have now branded him as a "church defamer." And they have taken Harry's highly specific words and painted them as blanket condemnations of the Catholic Church in general, suggesting that by speaking out against certain missteps, Mr. Knox has denounced all of the positive contributions for which the Vatican has ever been responsible. If you want to see TRUE faith-bashing, then look no further then what CWA is doing to Harry Knox right here!

But it doesn't stop there, as CWA also has hate crimes to decry. So what do they do? Well they work the "pedophilia is a sexual orientation" lie yet again, natch:

Knox's insults offend all Christians because they came as a result of the Catholic Church refusing to join a United Nations resolution requiring that countries treat all "sexual orientations" equally. And any Christian with an understanding of what "sexual orientation" means would have to oppose such a resolution.

Sorry Mr. Knox, Christians cannot support pedophilia. It should not be treated "equally."

Because, of course, blatantly lying about the scientifically sound definition sexual orientation is EXACTLY what Jesus likes to see! Right?

The truth is that CWA finds Harry scary because he stands for everything that would, nay, will ultimately put them out of business. Harry is a person of faith who knows that Bible-beating gay people is not (or at least should not be) a principle of Christianity. When he sees wrongs, he says so. When he hears hurtful condemnations, he replies with staunch refutations. When he comes across policies that are used as weapons again LGBT people, he serves as a much needed shield. In a world where "faith-based" has been hijacked to mean far-right, he is a welcome voice of change.

For a group that traffics in the aforementioned mindsets, Harry probably would seem like the enemy. But for those of us who have long been stymied by religious persecution, he is a bold voice whose concerns are far more meritous than CWA's could ever hope to be!

*The full CWA piece (and what piece it is!): Obama’s Hard “Knox” for Faith-Based Groups [CWA]

**UPDATE: Oh, but it's not just CWA! A group of conservatives, including names like Phyllis Schlafly and Bill Donohue, have sent a letter to President Obama in which they call Knox "a virulent anti-Catholic bigot" who "has made numerous vile and dishonest attacks against the Church and the Holy Father." Plus they also threaten to label the Obama presidency as "anti-Catholic" unless he removes Knox from his advisory council: A Letter to President Obama [Broady File]

Unreal! Or more appropriately: UnChristian!

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Your thoughts

Obviously these "christians" have no understanding of the workings of the Catholic Church. There are orders within the church that work toward inclusion and stand in opposition to many of the pope's edicts. As much as I disagree with most of what religion is about I have respect for the tolerance of dissention within the Catholic Church. Do a little research on the Benedictine and Thomistic orders for starters and get back to us before you judge Mr. Knox, CWA, Catholics are not as lock-step as you would like to think.

Posted by: SammySeattle | May 13, 2009 5:28:48 PM

Ask any young person in America why they left christianity *you can throw a rock at a college and hit an athiest* and the majority of the time the catalyst will be the bigotry, ignorance and politicization the religious right has hijacked their religion with. Being told you arent a real christian if you accept basic scientific facts/dont hate gays/vote democrat has driven away far more people than 'persecution' *IE: not kissing their ass* like this the religious right always whines about.
PS: how many times does the bible condemn lying VS condemning homosexuality?

Posted by: Penguinsaur | May 13, 2009 6:32:29 PM

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