Catholic social conservatives demanding
the ouster of a gay Faith Council member received little comfort on
Tuesday from a White House spokesman.
White House Press Secretary Robert
Gibbs gave the Obama Administration's first response to the
controversy surrounding openly gay Harry Knox's appointment to the
president's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood
The Catholic groups have called on
Obama to fire Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the
Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights advocate,
accusing the former United Methodist Church pastor of being a
“virulent anti-Catholic bigot.”
Among the signatories to a letter
addressed to Obama are Bill Donahue, President of the Catholic
League, Chuck Donovan, executive vice president of Family Research
Council, Phyllis Schlafly, founder and president of Eagle Forum and
Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner.
The groups say Knox is the “hate-filled
antithesis” of the Faith Council's objectives.
“Knox is a virulent anti-Catholic
bigot, and has made numerous vile and dishonest attacks against the
Church and the Holy Father,” the letter says. “He has no
business on any Council having to do with faith or religion.”
Backers of the campaign provided U.S.
News and World Report Journalist Dan Gilgoff with a list of
Knox's alleged offensives. The group's primary objections all appear
to revolve around Knox's support of the gay and lesbian community,
including his defense of a Cheyenne, Wyoming lesbian couple who in
2007 were barred from receiving communion, his criticism of the
Vatican's rejection of an United Nations resolution calling for the
universal decriminalization of being gay, and his disagreement with
Pope Benedict on the efficacy of condoms in controlling AIDS
Knox has also criticized the Knights of
Columbus for supporting an anti-gay marriage initiative that the
California Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional (Proposition
Obama Spokesman Gibbs shrugged off a
question on the controversy posed by a CNSNews.com reporter Tuesday.
“I haven't seen that letter, but the
president is comfortable with the makeup of his faith advisory
council,” Gibbs said.
The Faith Council is composed of 25
prominent religious figures and includes two anti-gay leaders: Joel
Hunter, who once headed the Christian Coalition, the most widely
recognized anti-gay and anti-abortion group in the nation, and Rev.
Jim Wallis, president and chief executive of Sojourners, a
Washington-based evangelical magazine, who is a vocal opponent of
abortion and gay marriage.