Pro-Life Advocates Ask Obama to Withdraw Abortion Backer From Faith Council

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocates Ask Obama to Withdraw Abortion Backer From Faith Council

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 9
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Prominent pro-life advocates are asking President Barack Obama to withdraw one of his appointees to the White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. They say Harry Knox, the director of the religion and faith program at Human Rights Campaign, shouldn’t be on the panel.

Knox’s group is a gay rights organization that also strongly supports abortion.

He has come under fire for attacking the Pope, who recently said that condoms are not the answer to the AIDS/HIV crisis in Africa. Knox called Pope Benedict XVI a liar and said he should "start telling the truth about condom use" and claimed the Catholic leader was "endangering people’s lives."

Knox even went so far as to say that the Knights of Columbus group members are "foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression."

Catholic League president Bill Donohue explains why Knox is unfit to serve.

“Though Knox is not Catholic, he could not resist blasting the Catholic Church," Donohue said. "He never explained how calls for abstinence could possibly jeopardize anyone’s life."

“Catholics take note: the Obama administration would never appoint an anti-gay person to any post. But it has no problem appointing anti-Catholics," he said.

Rep Mike Pence, a leading pro-life Republican in Congress, is calling on Obama to withdraw Knox’s appointment over his comments.

"Unfortunately, the President’s recent appointment to his advisory council makes a mockery out of the religious beliefs of countless Americans," he told "This selection furthers the divisive politics the American people have rejected and the President promised to abandon."

"Appointing a man who has publicly attacked the Pope and other religious leaders … is deeply offensive to millions of Americans and the faith-based community he is appointed to serve," Pence added.

"I call on the President to withdraw this appointment and select a person who can serve the faith-based community with the respect and dignity it deserves," he said.

Abortion advocates expressed their support for Obama naming Knox to the panel.

Frances Kissling, the former president of the so-called "Catholics for a Free Choice" group that backs abortion, applauded the decision and called it "a good choice."

"I certainly hope that Harry is equally active in protecting a woman’s right to choose and non-discrimination against women on the grounds of their sexual and reproductive lives. We do not need single issue advocates on this Council that is so stacked against progressive religious thought," he said.

On Monday, Obama also announced that more abortion advocates would appear on the panel.

In addition to Knox, they included Rev. Peg Chemberlin, the president-elect of the National Council of Churches USA, a collection of mainline Protestant churches — many of which hold pro-abortion positions.

Nancy Ratzan, board chair of the National Council of Jewish Women, has also been named to the White House office and her group is a longtime abortion supporter.

The group helped organize the pro-abortion march prominent pro-abortion groups organized nationally in April 2004.

Previous members Obama put on the White House faith council included Joshua DuBois, a 26-year old political activist who headed up religious outreach for the Obama campaign.

They also included Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Washington-based Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, a political group that also co-sponsored the pro-abortion march.

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