Anti-Catholic Senators




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When I think of the fraternal Catholic organization the Knights of Columbus, I mostly recall pancakes and basketball.  In my parish when I grew up, the Knights regularly served pancake breakfasts to raise money for worthy community causes.  I also once won their free-throw shooting contest at my parochial school! 

The millions of Catholic men who belong to the Knights of Columbus would probably be stunned to learn that at least two U.S. senators seem to consider membership in this laudable service organization as somehow disqualifying from serving as a federal judge.

Sens. Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris, in written questions to District Court judge nominee Brian Buescher, challenged his suitability for the bench because he belongs to this charitable Catholic group.  Hirono claimed that the Knights have taken “extreme positions” such as affirming Catholic belief in traditional marriage and even asked Buescher, “If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”  In today’s Democratic Party, the new McCarthyism asks, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Knights of Columbus?”

Harris wrote that “the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised of primarily Catholic men … opposes a woman’s right to choose.”  Anyone who ever pledged a college fraternity or sorority, take note — Harris does not seem to approve of your membership in a single-sex organization.  Anyone who further dares to personally embrace longstanding Christian doctrine on the sanctity of life, including the unborn, should also seek employment outside of the federal bench.  Such anti-Catholic bias represents not just a discriminatory affront, but also an unconstitutional religious litmus test for appointees.  In addition, the actual scandal would be if the Knights did not fully accept church teaching on matters as fundamental as the definition of marriage and the beginning of life. After all, Pope Francis, whom many progressives love to selectively cite, recently compared abortion to hiring a “hitman.”

Would Hirono and Harris ask similar questions of an observant Muslim nominee, since that faith also believes in traditional marriage?  Both of those senators howled in horror when President Trump enacted travel restrictions upon troubled countries, which they incorrectly assailed as a “Muslim ban.”  Hirono described that policy as “a dark day for our country.  Every time our country has singled out a minority group for discriminatory treatment, we have been proven very, very wrong.”  But such protections apparently do not apply to orthodox-thinking Christians whose biblically-based personal beliefs preclude government positions of authority, according to the bigotry of the left. 

Sadly, this attack upon Buescher is not an outlier, but rather part of a larger trend within the Democratic Party to exclude faith from the public square and people of faith from positions of power.  Last year, during confirmation hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted the devotion of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and her family to the Catholic Church and admonished that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.”  

In this Christmas season, our country should recall that people of intense faith, of all creeds, perform honorable service to our nation — from courts to elected office to our military.  Personal faith must never be a barrier to public service.  Christians around the world yesterday celebrated the birth of a Savior. In that spirit, I invite Sens. Hirono and Harris to uphold the best virtues of tolerance and our Constitution — and perhaps to join me for a pancake breakfast at a parish hall prepared by the Knights of Columbus. 

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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