Last month, Sen.s Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) attempted to apply a religious test against a Trump judicial nominee, Nebraska lawyer Brian C. Buescher. Harris and Hirono noted that Buescher is a member of the Roman Catholic charity the Knights of Columbus (KOC), which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Their suggestion that Buescher’s membership in this “extreme” organization disqualifies him from service is arguably a “religious test” and a modern version of anti-Catholic bigotry.
“There have been times in our country’s past when uninformed or prejudiced people questioned whether Catholics could be good citizens or honest public servants,” and many thought them “unfit for public office,” KOC Supreme Knight Carl Anderson wrote in a letter on Tuesday. “Sadly, it seems that in some quarters, this prejudice remains.”
In written questions for the record that Buescher answered on December 5, 2018, Hirono asked six questions regarding KOC and Harris asked ten.
Harris noted that Buescher had been a KOC member since 1993, and that the organization opposes abortion. “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” she asked. “Have you ever, in any way, assisted with or contributed to advocacy against women’s reproductive rights?”
Similarly, Harris noted that KOC spent $1 million to support Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman. “Where you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage equality when you joined the organization?” she demanded. “Do you believe the right to marry carries an implicit guarantee that everyone should be able to exercise that right equally?”
While Buescher is pro-life and ostensibly supports traditional marriage, he pledged that as a federal judge he would faithfully apply all U.S. laws and Supreme Court decisions, including Roe v. Wade (1973) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).
Both Hirono’s description of KOC as “extreme” and Harris’ suggestion that Buescher is bigoted in opposing “women’s reproductive rights” and “marriage equality” branded the the nominee as inherently biased and unworthy of the public trust in legal cases.
Since these suggestions surrounded mainstream positions of Roman Catholic doctrine, their questions arguably violate Article VI, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Catholic opposition to the progressive orthodoxy of abortion and same-sex marriage has revived America’s historic bigotry against Roman Catholicism, and expanded that bigotry to all conservative Christians (not to mention Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and many other believers and non-believers who hold such positions in good conscience).
Ironically, Harris and Hirono brought these charges against Buescher by pointing to the Knights of Columbus, an organization that bravely defended minorities since the early 1900s, fought hard against the Ku Klux Klan, and even boasted President John F. Kennedy as a member.
African-American Pastor Eugene F. Rivers III blasted their religious test in a scathing Wall Street Journal article on Thursday.
“As a leader of black Christians, I feel particularly strongly about the Knights of Columbus,” Rivers wrote. “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,” the black pastor added.
“If Catholics like the Knights can be targeted, what should members of my Pentecostal church expect?” Rivers asked. “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.”
Sadly, a new kind of anti-Christian bigotry seems to have gone mainstream on the Left. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-Left organization that claims to monitor “hate groups” in the name of civil rights, has expanded its list to include mainstream conservative and Christian organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), D. James Kennedy Ministries, and the Family Research Council (FRC), among others.
In branding the Ruth Institute a “hate group,” the SPLC actually cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, suggesting that this “civil rights watchdog” — whose opinions are echoed by the mainstream media as authoritative and trusted by Google and other liberal social media companies — considers Catholicism itself hateful.
In 2017, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) attacked another Catholic judicial nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, saying “the dogma lives loudly within you.” In this, she echoed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who argued that because a Christian thinks Islamic theology is wrong, that Christian cannot be considered for the judicial bench on grounds of “Islamophobia.”
American judges should treat everyone as equal before the law, and if a judge has a history of using the law to discriminate against women, Muslims, or people who identify as LGBT, that should disqualify him or her. But that is not what these Democrats are doing. Instead, they are suggesting that any Christian who disagrees with abortion, same-sex marriage, or even the tenets of Islam is unfit for public office.
This is utterly disgusting, and Americans should condemn it. Democrats are effectively demanding that those who disagree with the “intersectionality” orthodoxy must be exiled from public office. Like the SPLC, they use insinuations to suggest that Catholics, other believers in traditional sexual morality, and disbelievers in Islam are too anti-woman, anti-LGBT, or Islamophobic to serve the American people.
Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, has connected this inquisition into judges’ private beliefs to America’s tragic history of bigotry against Roman Catholics. The animus that seemed utterly defeated in the victory of John F. Kennedy, himself one of the Knights of Columbus, has re-emerged in the very party Kennedy himself led.
Responding to Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono, a Washington, D.C. Knights of Columbus council wrote to the senators, assuring them that “the fear that the Knights of Columbus held many extreme beliefs … is not grounded in any truth.”
The Capitol Hill council recalled working “with local parishes … to raise funds and give away over $4,000 worth of coats to neighborhood children, collect soda and beer can tabs to donate to the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute, which helps the developmentally disabled, and collect diapers and other supplies for new mothers in need.” In the past year, the group “donated an ultrasound machine to a clinic, picked up trash around Nationals Park, and donated supplies to a local school.”
The council formally invited the senators and their staffs to “any social or charitable event,” particularly mentioning the “Polar Plunge to raise funds for DC Special Olympics” this February.
Neither Kamala Harris nor Mazie Hirono has responded to this invitation, LifeSite News reported. Perhaps the senators fear that if they help KOC engage in charitable activity, they might discover that the Knights of Columus is a charitable organization, not a “hate group.”
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