Catholic League’s Precarious Position

On Friday, we discussed Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights President Bill Donohue’s campaign against Barack Obama’s Catholic advisory council—a beef based on the fact that a number of these advisors, like most U.S. Catholics, are politically pro-choice. It might seem odd that a group so sensitive to references to Catholicism that it would boycott a beer company with flimsy links to a gay-themed “Last Supper” would be so easy to mollify when it came to McCain’s alliance with John Hagee, and odder still that Donohue seems to be settling in for the long haul of dogging Obama for links to pro-choice Catholics.

But readers of this blog have probably noticed, that’s just Donohue modus operandi. Whether he’s hyping a mythical “War on Christmas,” mouthing off randomly about gays, or intimidating critics of Bush’s judicial nominees with phony charges of anti-Catholicism, Donohue’s tool belt is limited to hyping his “beef” with popular culture and attacking political opponents as religious “bigots.”

Catholics for Choice (formerly Catholics for a Free Choice) has been Donohue’s top target for years—for example, he would label the group’s past president “the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the nation.” Now, CFC has released an in-depth report on Donohue and the Catholic League (PDF here) (via RH Reality Check):

According to an annual report put out by the League, the number of examples of anti-Catholicism grew from 140 in 1995 to 320 in 2006, yet the only thing that seems to have actually increased is the League’s definition of what constitutes anti-Catholic activity.

Despite (or perhaps because of) Donohue’s predictable partisanship and bullying style, the Catholic League still manages to get a fair number of its shotgun press releases into the media, where Donohue is treated as if he were a representative of all Catholics, if not a spokesman for the church itself. This is a precarious position for a group whose political philosophy is built upon the suggestion that those who are pro-choice—including the majority of U.S. Catholics—are the “anti-Catholic” enemy.