Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

More on Hirono’s and Harris’s Anti-Catholic Bigotry

Following up on Carrie Severino’s two posts, I’m pleased to see that there has been considerable objection to the effort by Senator Mazie Hirono and Senator Kamala Harris to tar federal district court nominee Brian Buescher for belonging to the Knights of Columbus. In addition to NRO’s house editorial, I’ll highlight two pieces.

In an op-ed in The Hill yesterday, Democratic—yes, Democratic!—congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (who, like Hirono, is from Hawaii) strongly condemned Hirono and Harris for “fomenting religious bigotry,” and she encouraged others to condemn them as well:

For too long in our country, politicians have weaponized religion for their own selfish gain, fomenting bigotry, fears and suspicions based on the faith, religion or spiritual practices of their political opponents.

Whether we think of ourselves as Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Buddhists, Jews, atheists, agnostics, or anything else, it is imperative that we stand united in our commitment to protect religious freedom and the right to worship or not worship, safely and without the fear of retribution.

We must stand together, and with one voice condemn those who seek to incite bigotry based on religion. We cannot allow those who are anxious to exploit our differences to drive a wedge between us. We cannot and will not tolerate prejudicial treatment of those with whom we disagree, any more than we would tolerate such treatment of those with whom we agree.

In a piece in the Wall Street Journal last week, Pentecostal minister Eugene F. Rivers III discerned that Hirono’s and Harris’s use of “anti-Catholic bigotry” was really “about silencing believers of any kind whose views differ from the progressive view on social issues.” He continued:

As a leader of black Christians, I feel particularly strongly about the Knights of Columbus. For more than a century they bravely defended minorities. The group ran integrated hospitality and recreation centers for troops in World War I—the only charitable organization that did so. To confront prejudice in the teaching of history, in the 1920s the Knights commissioned books on black and Jewish history in America. They stood against the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, the height of its power, helping fund the Supreme Court case that defeated the Klan-backed ban on Catholic education in Oregon. The Knights spoke out against the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany as early as the 1930s. Today they assist victims of Islamic State.

If Catholics like the Knights can be targeted, what should members of my Pentecostal church expect? We share traditional views on abortion and marriage. What about Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Mormons and evangelical Christians? Even the Rev. Martin Luther King’s biblical beliefs would be anathema to Sens. Harris, Feinstein and Hirono. JFK, himself a proud Knight of Columbus, would be unacceptable too.

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