Are Bill Donohue and the Catholic League anti-Catholic?

By Andrew L. Seidel
Staff Attorney
Freedom From Religion Foundation

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, with whom I have disagreed several times in the past, has missed the mark again. His recent piece, “Church-State fanatics must learn from Cuba” attacked our friends at Americans United and FFRF as “anti-Catholic.” He called the Freedom From Religion Foundation a “wild-eyed anti-Catholic group … even more extreme than Americans United.” (Coming from him, a compliment.)

Andrew Seidel (left) of FFRF squares off with Bill Donohue (right) of the Catholic League. We thought atheists were supposed to be the angry ones.....
Andrew Seidel (left) of FFRF squares off with Bill Donohue (right) of the Catholic League. We thought atheists were supposed to be the angry ones…..

Donohue wonders, “if they can build churches in Cuba” and “[i]f the Castro brothers are not scared to death of public money servicing the Church, then these militant secularists ought to take a deep breath and move on.” Donohue wants public money to go to his church for things like school vouchers, because we all know the Vatican is hard up for cash. (It’s not, and it’s in the top three landowners globally.)

Donohue seems to be confusing fear of religion with a desire to keep state and church separate. FFRF and AU are fighting to uphold the Constitution, a document that prohibits any “sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the sovereign in religious activity.”

Opposing the Catholic Church’s attempts to use taxpayer money to further its myths and superstitions is not “anti-Catholic,” it is pro-Constitution, pro-First Amendment, and pro-religious freedom. Freedom of religion cannot exist without freedom from religion. And while Donohue might wish FFRF and AU would stop enforcing the Constitution, that’s not going to happen.

Calling for individuals to quit the Church because of its terrible record in Africa, in dealing with child-rapists, and its medieval ideas is not “anti-Catholic” either. It’s criticism. Donohue’s skin is awfully thin.

Donohue labels FFRF and AU “separation of church and state fanatics,” but so then were the founders. And if Donohue’s Catholic chauvinism insists on seeking public funds to propagate its nonsense, then he might want to reread Ben Franklin, who thought that when a religion “cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are obliged to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad” religion. And if Franklin is correct that only bad religions need the support of secular government, then by seeking that support Donohue is, you guessed it, anti-Catholic.

 



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