Friday, May 15, 2009

Frances Kissling on Harry Knox Story: Silence of Justice-Oriented Christians about Injustice to Gays

It appears I’m (thankfully) not the only blogger interested in the intersection of religion and politics who has picked up on the significance of the Harry Knox story. Religion Dispatches is carrying a recent posting of Frances Kissling about the attack on Knox.

Kissling notes, as I did in my posting yesterday as well, the rich irony of the fact that some of those supporting the attack on Knox on the spurious ground that he is anti-Catholic have themselves been associated with anti-Catholic initiatives. She points out that one of the signers of the letter to President Obama asking him to fire Harry Knox is Judie Brown of the American Life League.

As Kissling says, American Life League is

a group so virulent in its own anti-Catholicism that it attacked DC’s former Cardinal McCarrick during the 2004 election campaign for not denying communion to pro-choice John Kerry.

As I do in my posting about the attack on Knox, Kissling says, “It will be interesting to see if the President stands by Harry.” I also noted that, as Knox is attacked by what Kissling calls “a rogue’s gallery of some of the most vicious and marginal figures on the Catholic right.” I do not anticipate that centrist Catholics will leap to his defense. As I noted,

As the new administration continues to cave in to the hard right in this area, I do not believe that a majority of American Catholics of the center—or of Americans of the center, in general—will speak out about this case, and will call on Mr. Obama to resist . . . . Ultimately, they would prefer that we just go away, with our inconvenient questions and our inopportune expectations of justice and civility and our inconvenient gay lives.

Kissling also notes the accustomed silence of centrist (including center-left) Catholics, when it comes to defending gay people who are unjustly attacked. As she notes,

And it will be equally interesting to see if groups like Catholics United and the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good are as eager to support Harry as they were to support Notre Dame and HHS Secretary Sibelius.

In fact, Kissling actually called Catholics United for the Common Good to ask for their take on the Knox story. That group told her that they’d “get back” to her. Kissling also contacted Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life, who told her she had not heard of the Knox situation but would look into it.

I checked the websites of both organizations before posting this piece today. I find nothing on either website addressing the attack on Harry Knox.

Sadly, we who are gay and lesbian continue to be the embarrassing, unacknowledged stepchildren of many progressive movements for justice within the churches today—even when those on the far right using us as objects in political games are really all about disempowering groups like Catholics United and Faith in Public Life. Within faith-based movements for social justice, the claims to justice of gay human beings continue all too often to remain unacknowledged, and gay and lesbian persons all too often remain invisible.