Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Proud Supporter of the "Army of Oppression"

I paid my dues and renewed my membership in the army of oppression Knights of Columbus last night.

Wait, what?

The Knights of Columbus are an "army of oppression" because they oppose same sex marriage?

The pope and Catholic bishops are "discredited leaders" because they believe condom distribution isn't really an effective means of slowing the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Such opinions would no doubt come as a shock to the members of my local K of C Council, but apparently they have been espoused by one Harry Knox, a member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives. Fred Lucas, a correspondent for the Cybercast News Service (CNS) reported Knox's comments in a story here.

It seems Mr. Knox was upset because Knights in California supported Proposition 8, a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that would have defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The State Supreme Court had earlier issued a ruling saying that limiting the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional discrimination. The ballot measure, a response to the ruling, passed 52.5% to 47.5% (Darn pesky voters!)

Lucas reports:

On Mar. 19, Knox told the San Francisco-based gay newspaper The Bay Area Reporter, “The Knights of Columbus do a great deal of good in the name of Jesus Christ, but in this particular case [Proposition 8], they were foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression.”

The newspaper further reported: “Knox noted that the Knights of Columbus ‘followed discredited leaders,’ including bishops and Pope Benedict XVI. ‘A pope who literally today said condoms don't help in control of AIDS.’”

While I appreciate Mr. Knox's admission that the Knights do some good, I'd also point out that there is evidence that condoms don't help, and the pope isn't the only one who says so.

Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, writes in a letter to the British medical journal Lancet:

Could condom promotion exacerbate epidemics? The phenomenon of risk compensation—engaging in higher-risk behaviours because risk reduction technology conveys a greater sense of safety than warranted—could account for higher infection rates, and has been suggested by at least one randomised, controlled study, which found that “gains in condom use seem to have been offset by increases in the number of sex partners.”

In other words, people can mistakenly conclude that as long as they have a condom, irresponsible casual sex that dehumanizes both parties is "safe" and can encourage people to spread disease. Funny, that sounds a lot like what the Pope said:

.."I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness — even through personal sacrifice — to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress".

But that's not all. Even when the facts are against them, gay rights activists are not only targeting the K of C as an organization, but are also harassing individual Knights who freely volunteer their time to raise money for organizations that support people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

It seems that one Brad Allison, a gay man from Fair Oaks, Va. took it upon himself to decide that the Knights of Columbus were a "hate group" because the Knights opposed same-sex marriage, complained to the management of his local grocery store because Knights were soliciting donations there, and harassed both Knights and grocery store patrons who wanted to make donations.

Mr. Allison claims that the Knights' charitable fundraising activities are just a cover for "hate" and compares the Knights to the Ku Klux Klan. These claims are despicable and outrageous. I personally have participated in these fund drives for many years and I know that the overwhelming majority of money raised (on the order of 80%) directly to local people and organizations that need it. Most of the remaining 20% goes to organizations that provide assistance at the state level. Only a tiny fraction of the money is used for administrative costs, and NONE of it is used for other projects such as support of Proposition 8. I have been present when checks have been presented and heard emotional firsthand testimonials about how the money is used and how much it is appreciated.

I find Mr. Allison's comparison of the K of C to the KKK to be particularly absurd, given that for many years I was a member of a council in which most of the officers were African-American. It was one of the most racially integrated and convivial organizations I have ever belonged to. The KKK was and is also staunchly anti-Catholic, which is obviously not true of K of C. No, the only "oppression" going on as far as the Knights of Columbus are concerned is in the minds of radical homosexual activists such as Knox and Allison--which they would know if they bothered to check facts rather than simply indulge in slander and name-calling.

Hat Tips: Mark Shea and Joanna Bogle.

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