Why is Bill Donohue angry … again?

By John GehringCatholics in Alliance for the Common Good Just in time for Halloween, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League … Continued

By John Gehring
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Just in time for Halloween, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is once again spooked about all those “radical secularists” lurking ominously behind ever corner. In case you didn’t notice, these godless heathens are “waging war” against American culture and plotting to “smash the last vestiges of Christianity in America.” So argues the irrepressible cultural warrior in a recent On Faith commentary and in his new book, “Secular Sabatoge: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America.”

You have to hand it to the guy. Donohue makes righteous indignation and throwing rhetorical bombs into an art form. He is about as subtle as a fist in your face. If you are looking for reasoned and sensible analysis turn on PBS, Donohue seems to snarl. His latest depiction of cultural doom probably elicits a yawn from most religious Americans who are not obsessed with the bogeymen of multiculturalism, secularism, homosexuality and Hollywood hedonism that Donohue rails against with a bullying style.

Everyday in our churches, mosques and synagogues people of faith gather humbly to pray for wisdom, compassion and justice. We give public expression to this faith by comforting the sick, welcoming the strangers among us and seeking peace in a world torn by violence. We lobby Congress to pass health-care reform, fix a broken immigration system and address global climate change as profound moral issues. Even on difficult issues, we reject culture-war showdowns by encouraging pro-choice and pro-life elected officials to find common ground and reduce abortions by increasing support for pregnant women, expanding adoption opportunities and preventing unintended pregnancies.

It’s a shame, if unsurprising, that the media regularly turns to Donohue for a “Catholic view” on issues. While Donohue’s bluster makes for sensational television, he rarely raises his voice to speak about issues at the heart of Catholic social teaching. While the U.S. Catholic bishops’ 2008 election-year statement on political responsibility emphasized a consistent ethic of life tradition that recognizes torture, unjust war, the death penalty, genocide, racism and poverty as “direct assaults on innocent human life,” Donohue is uncharacteristically mute on these points. Abortion is not the only “life issue” for Catholics. As Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles told Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. last year: “We are not a one-issue Church…but that’s not what always comes out.”

We live in an age where the shrillest voices often drown out sober debate and thoughtful insights. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh watch their ratings soar with every outrageous remark. Bill Donohue gets invited on TV because he bellows and bloviates with the best of them. While some enjoy the antics, most of us are tired of the noise machine. Faith and reason are not enemies, but together can help illuminate our path through the dark forests of fear, ignorance and injustice. Sometimes we just need to turn down the volume and tune out the shouters to find our way.

John Gehring is the Media Director and Senior Writer for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

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  • tvljr2

    I find it interesting that Mr. Donohue has aligned himself with conservative evanglical Christian groups that have a long history of preaching anti-Catholic hate. He is an embarrassment to the Church and its members and should be marginalized by the Vatican.

  • michaelbindner

    Cross posted from my comments on Donahue’s post:Some issues are entirely secular or have secular aspects which must be addressed (like abortion). As far as culture, I have always found it abundantly amusing that Fox News is subsized by the Fox entertainment establishment, which has some of the raunchiest entertainment in the marketplace. As far as sexual morality, it exists not for God but for people, because God loves people and because He is intrensically happy regardless of our moral behavior. When the Catholic hierarchy creates dogma that ignores this fact, the people in the pews are right to ignore it. Secularism is good here, since it prevents violence on the part of religious authorities to enforce their idealistic and wrongheaded views.Bill Donohue seems to discount that the President of the United States started his career as a Catholic Charities employee and the Vice President and the Speaker of the House are Catholics and Democrats. Six Justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic – the last of which was appointed by the current Democratic President. Of course he has his own version of who is or is not Catholic. He is not entitled to an opinion on this, however.Finally, it is the liberals in the Church and public life (and the voting booth for Obama) who see economics as the solution to abortion. We are begining to win the day – starting with health care reform and the raising of wages for the least among us. Don’t count out our ability to increase the number of liberals once our economic agenda gets done. By the way, it is false to alledge that abortion and ideology are linked – many conservatives resort to abortion when their children end up pregnant, or when they cannot afford yet another child. Indeed, given the economic status of many conservatives, the Democratic economic proposals may not actually help our cause – however we are not so callous as to have political motivations for doing good.

  • Tiparillo

    Why is this clown, Donohue, given a forum anywhere, let alone the Washington Post. I see that I was not wrong to remove WaPo from my reading list. I should have known better than to follow a link to this rag.

  • jnardo

    By publishing Donahue’s paranoid rant, Quinn and Meacham do a disservice to themselves and to faith based communities. Idiosyncratic religious thought is a hallmark of the paranoid ideas of people with mental illness. In a clinical setting, making the distinction between religious delusions and the religious thought of normal people is simple. There’s no course in psychiatric training to teach trainees how to do it. Even the most religious can make that distinction easily with their first case. The religious thought of the mentally ill is focused on persecution, usually personal in nature. Some they are out to get me or people like me. There’s almost always a pseudocommunity responsible for the problem, a collection of diverse persecutors working together in communication with each other to create mahem. Unlike the motivations of other human beings, the members of the pseudocommunity are motivated solely to cause destruction and chaos. There’s no need to explain the why of the attack, the delusional person just knows that the arch-fiends are up to no good. There’s no real reason to go on and on. This distinction is obvious. But if there were to be a course to teach mental health workers how to identify paranoia, Donahue’s article would be a good choice for inclusion in the curriculum.As the comments section after this article make perfectly clear, the question isn’t about Bill Donahue or even the content of his article. The question is about Sally Quinn, John Meacham, and the Washington Post. I would doubt that this article is the revelation of their “true colors.” That would be a paranoid thought, though it crossed my mind and the minds of others in the comments. Were they influenced by Donahue’s title, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights? Did the book publisher have some unreported influence? Is this some kind of misdirected pathological egalitarianism? Or were they just plain sloppy?Sane readers want to know…

  • ccnl1

    An obvious fact Billy D. forgot to mention:BO rode to the Blood-Red House on the backs of 35+million aborted womb-babies!!!(The fastest growing USA voting bloc: The 70+ million “Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers” of aborted womb-babies” whose ranks grow by two million per year.)i.e. the Immoral Majority now rules the land and will do so in the foreseeable future. How very sad and disturbing!!! 2008 Presidential Popular vote results: 69,456,897 votes for BO 59,934,814 votes for JM

  • Cthulhu3

    Whether you love him or hate him, Bill Donohue is awlways interesting, divisive, provocative, and–how dare he!–actually takes a stand. A real tonic! John Gehring is about as exciting as milktoast. Sorry, John. Your views are so compromised, nuanced, and neutered–you are the mule to Stevens-Arroyo’s jackass. Sterile intellects breed nothing.

  • outragex

    The Donahue diatribe really did not belong in the WAPO. It made outrageous charges, but did not provide logic to back them up. I feel bad for my Catholic friends whose compassionate views were so misrepresented by this sad rant. I also wonder why more official Catholic leaders have not responded to disavow Donahue’s distortions of Catholic doctrine and tradition. I have read that Donahue is a self-promoter who does not lead a credible organization that speaks for many Catholics. Why then does the Post give him a platform to poison the well of sensible dialogue?I usually read this forum daily, but I may give it up if it keeps this sensational and irresponsible trend going. If I wanted this type of rant I would subscribe to cable, and watch those crazy “news” channels.

  • farouet

    I really don’t think the situation is as dire, from a religious standpoint, as Wild Bill is crying about. But I hope I live long enough to see it.

  • Fate1

    “Why is Bill Donohue angry … again?”Because Bill’s selling a book! And making noise and acting the victim sells books! Ask Palin!What? You thought Bill was afraid of secularism? Brahahahahahahahahahaha… He couldn’t live his lifestyle without it. He feeds off fear, and when there is little fear, he creates it, otherwise his job has no meaning. What a sorry sorry little man to live off divisiveness and stoking fear in others. And he calls himself a Catholic. And the man is divorced for crying out loud and in the church that is a sin to God, family members and society as a whole. Look it up: CCC2384. But like most conservatives, they rarely practice what they preach nor consider bound by what they preach, yet expect everyone else to abide. How special!

  • brennaro

    To the editors:Printing a column by John Gehring is no substitute for the necessary exercise of apologizing for printing the column by Mr. Donohue. Mr. Donohue’s column was laden with inaccuracies, paranoia, and hate. The Post needs to admit that and that it made a poor decision to publish such a piece. I, and many of your readers, saw no positive value in the publication. It even served as a call to religious conservatives to wage jihad against gays, atheists, Hollywood, multiculturists, liberals, Catholics for choice, and dog walkers. The next biggest editorial lapse to printing his column would be to not acknowledge the mistake and apologize for it. Because his column has revealed “Guest Voices” as a possible pulpit for paranoia, bigotry, and hate under the pretense of religion, I think it is time to end the feature or find alternative editorial oversight.

  • katavo

    When you encounter Bill Donahue on television he seems only to be a bitter and angry old man. Usually he is seen only in his reactionary state, red-faced and on the verge of screaming. He seems silly.Here he has taken some longer period to generate his reactions. He has given us his true feelings, his true opinion, and now we know how depraved this man really is.I don’t blame the Post for having published his tirade against America. I liken it to exploratory surgery – sometimes what you find is far more vile than what you expected.We should know who our enemies are. Sometimes they are us.

  • coloradodog

    ccnl1 sounds amazingly similar to Bill Donahue.Bill?Is that you?

  • coloradodog

    “On Faith” using Gehring’s column as an apology for publishing the hate-monger Donahue as if Meacham and Quinn we secret agents of Fox News is about as lame as Benedict’s apology for pedophile priests.Thank you to those Catholics who have the courage to denounce Donahue for what he is.

  • DoTheRightThing

    Anyone today who self-identifies as Catholic and doesn’t perceive danger to morality in Western society posed by relativism, secularism, homosexuality, and Hollywood hedonism is either poorly-informed on the issues or a Catholic adrift from traditional moorings and anchors.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    According to Wikipedia, the Catholic League has 233,000 paying members. On this blog, Patrick Deneen’s essay defending CUA’s decision to ban a Catholic LGBTQ club in the interest of “diversity” appears.It may be that Donohue is not as effective at double-speak as Dineen. But there are many Dineens and many Donohues. Same Catholics, different quality suits.

  • ccnl1

    Who is the Bill Donahue some commentaries mention? The Billy D. being reviewed is Bill Donohue.

  • coloradodog

    nyone today who self-identifies as Catholic and doesn’t perceive danger to morality in Western society posed by relativism, secularism, homosexuality, and Hollywood hedonism is either poorly-informed on the issues or a Catholic adrift from traditional moorings and anchors.gee, no mention of pederasty?

  • ccnl1

    See And what has it cost the USA RCC to date???Date Diocese Payment Recipients Comments 1997 Dallas $31 million [86] 2003, June Louisville $25.7 million 240 [87] 2003, Sept. Boston $85 million 552 [88] 2004, July Portland $53 million 100 2004, Dec. Spokane $48 million (at least) Filed for bankruptcy, payment was a part (has to be approved by judge and victims) [90] 2005, Jan. Orange, California $100 million 87 [91][92][93][94][95]2006, Dec. Los Angeles $60 million 45 45 of the over 500 pending cases [98] 2007 Los Angeles $16 million 9 ordered to pay [99] 2007, Jan. Charleston $12 million Bishop Robert J. Baker agreed to pay [100]2007, Jan. Charleston $12 million [100] 2007, Feb. San Diego $198.1 million 144

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Why is Cardinal Levada welcoming disaffected Anglicans into the Vatican, instead of making license plates in jail?