White House Fails to Respond to Boehner’s Call for Resignation of Obama Adviser Who Says Pope is ‘Hurting People in the Name of Jesus’
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
By Fred Lucas, Staff Writer
Washington (CNSNews.com) – The White House is not responding to questions about House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R.-Ohio) renewed call for the resignation of Harry Knox, a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, who recently stood by his assertion that Pope Benedict XVI is “hurting people in the name of Jesus.”
Boehner said at a Feb. 3 press briefing that he believes Knox is an “anti-Catholic bigot” who should not be a presidential adviser. “He should resign. And I have agreed to sign a letter [calling for that],” said Boehner. “We can’t have in the White House an anti-Catholic bigot, and that’s what this gentleman appears to be.”
Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s most prominent homosexual rights group, was named to President Obama’s advisory council last spring despite having made several anti-Catholic and anti-papal comments on behalf of the HRC.
On March 17, 2009, after the pope told reporters that he did not support condom use and did not believe they were effective in checking the spread of AIDS in Africa, Knox issued a written statement via the HRC attacking the pope for “hurting people in the name of Jesus” and spreading “blatant falsehoods.”
“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 Knox. “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.”
Two weeks after Knox made this statement, Obama named him to his faith-based advisory council.
Last May, 22 prominent Catholics wrote to President Obama asking him to remove Knox from the advisory council because of his anti-Catholic comments. One of the signatories of that letter was House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). Separately, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was the first to issue a statement calling for Knox to resign from the council.
On Feb. 2 of this year, CNSNews.com asked Knox, during an event at the National Press Club, if he still stands by his assertion that Pope Benedict XVI is “hurting people in the name of Jesus” because of his position on condoms. Knox said, “I do.”
CNSNews.com asked Boehner about the matter on Feb. 3. That is when Boehner said he believed Knox was an “anti-Catholic bigot” and renewed his call for Knox to resign.
On Monday, CNSNews.com asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs about Boehner’s call for Knox to resign because of his anti-Catholic remarks.
“I don’t–not surprisingly, I do not have anything on that,” Gibbs said. “I’d be happy to have one of these guys take a look at it.”
CNSNews.com followed up immediately on Monday with an e-mail to Shin Inouye, the White House spokesman on issues regarding the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiative, asking for a response to Boehner’s call for Knox to resign, whether the White House disagreed with Knox’s anti-papal comment, and if the White House still supported Knox’s appointment to the council.
By 4 p.m. on Tuesday–and after two follow-up phone calls from CNSNews.com–Inouye had not responded.
Last June, when CNSNews.com asked Gibbs about the letter from 22 Catholics asking for Knox’s removal from the council. Gibbs then said that the White House was “comfortable” with all the members of the council.
“I haven’t seen that letter, but the president is comfortable with the makeup of his faith advisory council,” Gibbs said.
In 2007, Knox accused the Catholic Church of committing an act that was”immoral and insulting to Jesus” when the diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., declined communion to a lesbian couple that had been married in Canada and was working to promote same-sex marriage in Wyoming.
“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,” Knox said in a statement put out by the HRC. “The Human Rights Campaign grieves with the couple, Leah Vader and Lynn Huskinson, over this act of spiritual and emotional violence perpetrated against them.”
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