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Religion

Democratic Congresswoman Calls Out Fellow Democrats for ‘Religious Bigotry’

Representative Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., July 26, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, published an op-ed in The Hill yesterday, implicitly criticizing two of her fellow Democratic congresswomen for subjecting a judicial nominee to a religious test as a result of his Catholic faith and his long-time membership in the Knights of Columbus.

Though she doesn’t mention them by name, Gabbard was referring to Democratic senators Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), both of whom have targeted federal judicial nominee Brian Buescher for his Catholicism, and the latter of whom has demanded that he drop his membership in the Knights and recuse himself from any case on which the organization has taken a position.

Gabbard does explicitly cite the controversial comments of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), who in the fall of 2017 questioned circuit-court nominee Amy Coney Barrett about her Catholic faith during her confirmation hearing, saying, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” Feinstein’s remark received significant backlash from the right, and from Catholics in particular, who rightly noted the senator’s obvious implication that practicing Catholics are not suited to serve on U.S. courts as a result of their faith.

“While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus,” Gabbard went on. More from her op-ed:

The party that worked so hard to convince people that Catholics and Knights of Columbus like Al Smith and John F. Kennedy could be both good Catholics and good public servants shows an alarming disregard of its own history in making such attacks today. We must call this out for what it is – religious bigotry. . . . Elected leaders engaging in religion-baiting are playing with fire.

Predictably, the Democratic congresswoman has come under fire from at least one progressive commentator for making this argument:

Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, for his part, attempted to explain the reaction to Gabbard’s op-ed, but did so fairly clumsily: “Gabbard began her political career as a social conservative, has made amends, but her reaction to conservative media coverage of ‘anti-Catholic’ Dems is leaving a mark. This *really* gets under Dems’ skin. Many are Catholic themselves and are accused of religious bigotry if they ask conservative Catholic nominees about their on-record ideology.”

Meanwhile, the Post’s Jennifer Rubin, whose Twitter bio describes her as a “conservative blogger,” blithely dismissed Gabbard’s concerns about religious tests, tweeting, “I cannot imagine a stupider issue that impacts no one’s real life. anywhere. ever.” Perhaps Rubin is unaware of the fact that the Knights boast nearly 2 million members, most of whom are American, and one of whom is Gabbard’s own father, according to Hawaii News Now.

And Rubin, along with Gabbard’s other critics and much of the left, seems to care little for the reality that anyone who buys into rhetoric such as that of Feinstein and Harris and Hirono is telling American Catholics that their religious beliefs disqualify them from public service.

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