Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights calls itself a defender of "religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened," but it is known primarily for the abrasive and confrontational style and over-the-top rhetoric of its president, William Donohue.

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
450 Seventh Avenue - Floor 34
New York NY 10123

President/CEO: William Donohue
Founded: 1973
Board of Directors: Rev. Philip Eichner (Chairman); Bernadette Brady (Vice President); Marilyn Lundy (Vice Chair); William Lindner (Secretary); Jerome McDougal (Treasurer); and David Gregory (General Counsel)
Board Members: Thomas Blee; Thomas Brennan; Nunzio Cardone; Ann Corkery; Robert Goldschmidt; Robert Lockwood; Kathleen O'Connell Murphy; Frank Salas; Jodie Thompson Jr.; Kathleen McCreary; and Kenneth Whitehead
Board of Advisors: Brent Bozell III; Gerard Bradley; Linda Chavez; Robert Destro; Dinesh D'Souza; Laura Garcia; Robert George; Mary Ann Glendon; Dolores Grier; Alan Keyes; Stephen Krason; Lawrence Kudlow; Thomas Monaghan; Michael Novak; Kate O'Beirne; Thomas Reeves; Patrick Riley; Robert Royal; Russell Shaw; William Simon; Jr., Paul Vitz; and George Weigel
Membership: 350,000
Revenue: $2,628,533 (2005); Net Assets $7,950,716 (2005)
Publications: Catholic League's Report on Anti-Catholicism (published annually), Catalyst journal (published ten times a year)
Affiliates: Chapters located in El Paso, Texas; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Baltimore, Maryland; Los Angeles, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Rockford, Illinois

Read the latest news on the Catholic League on the group's Right Wing Watch index page


The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (Catholic League) proclaims that it "works to safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened" and acts "as a watchdog agency and defender of the civil rights of all Catholics."


The Catholic League claims to defends the Church against any "slanderous assaults" that appear in newspapers or on radio and television by issuing press releases and encouraging boycotts of sponsors. The organization was involved in the right-wing campaign to confirm both John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court by warning those opposed to these nominees about, and sometimes accusing them of, anti-Catholic bigotry. The Catholic League has also been involved in battling the so-called "War on Christmas," organizing against stores and corporations who use the term "holiday" instead of "Christmas." In 2005, Donohue blasted Wal-Mart, saying it was "practicing discrimination" and "insulting Christians by effectively banning Christmas."


The Catholic League was founded in 1973 by Father Virgil C. Blum. According to his bio, William Donohue serves on the board for the Washington Legal Foundation, the Educational Freedom Foundation, the Society of Catholic Social Science, Catholics United for the Faith, the Jewish Action Alliance, Ave Maria Institute, Christian Film & Television Commission, and Project Moses. He is also an adjunct scholar at the Heritage Foundation and serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars.


"Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it."
– Bill Donohue on opposition to Mel Gibson's "The Passion" movie, MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," 12/08/04

"The fact that Jew baiting did not accompany the nominations of Ginsburg and Breyer shows how this nation has progressed. Unfortunately, within 24 hours of Roberts' nomination, Catholic baiting has raised its ugly head. And the fact that it is coming from a mainstream liberal source is even more disconcerting. We hope this is not the beginning of an ugly few months."
– On the issue of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' faith, News Release, 07/20/05

"The anti-religious secularists on the Left are more concerned about keeping abortion-on-demand legal and keeping our society free from religious influence than any other issues. It is what defines them. Imbued with hate, they are already targeting the Christian status of Harriet Miers."
– On the short-lived nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, News Release, 10/05/05

"Some are already commenting that if Alito is confirmed he would be the fifth Catholic on the Supreme Court. For example, the Associated Press ran a story at 7:45 a.m.—before Bush formally announced his choice for the high court—with the headline, 'Alito Would be the Fifth Catholic Justice on Supreme Court.' So what? Currently, Jews comprise 22 percent of the Justices, even though they are only 1 percent of the population. Is that a problem?

"The next time the 'Catholic' issue is raised, it would be wise to remember that both Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Santorum are Catholic."
– On the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, News Release, 10/31/05

"First, the cultural fascists banned crèches, and now they want to ban the Christmas tree. All of this is done, perversely, in the name of tolerance and diversity."
– On the supposed "War on Christmas," News Release, 12/07/05

"Foley's lawyer says his client never molested anyone, which begs the question: why play the Catholic card? Together with his other maladies, Foley is obviously seeking to exculpate his behavior, despite protestations to the contrary by his attorney … As for the alleged abuse, it's time to ask some tough questions. First, there is a huge difference between being groped and being raped, so which was it Mr. Foley? Second, why didn't you just smack the clergyman in the face? After all, most 15-year-old teenage boys wouldn't allow themselves to be molested. So why did you?"
– Commenting on the scandal involving former congressman Mark Foley, News Release, 10/04/06

Updated: October 2006