Cardinal Francis George Compares Gay Pride Parade Participants to KKK Members

The Chicago Gay Pride Parade takes place the last Sunday of June and the route happens to pass by a Catholic church. When you’re in a big city, it’s kind of hard not to pass a church along a large parade route. It’s not like they did it on purpose.

But the priest at the church said he would be unable to hold Sunday morning mass if the parade went on as planned.

That led Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, to speak out against the parade in the worst possible way (watch from the 2:50 mark):

“Well, I go with the pastor. I mean, he’s telling us that they won’t be able to have Church services on Sunday, if that’s the case. You know, you don’t want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism. So, I think if that’s what’s happening, and I don’t know that it is, but I would respect the local pastor’s, you know, position on that. Then I think that’s a matter of concern for all of us.”

If you keep watching that clip, cohost Dane Placko (kind of) calls him out on the analogy, saying it’s a “little strong.”

Cardinal George responds: “It is.” And then goes on defending it.

Because a group of people that value diversity and tolerance and inclusion of people (regardless of sexual orientation) are the equivalent of a hate group that lynched people for having the “wrong” skin color…

For what it’s worth, parade organizers changed the time of the parade, pushing it back two hours so as to not interfere with the service. Frankly, I don’t think they needed to do that, but hey, they’re not there to make trouble. They just want people to get along. Too bad you can’t say the same thing about the Catholic hierarchy.

The Cardinal still hasn’t apologized for what he said. Instead he just added, “It is terribly wrong and sinful that gays and lesbians have been harassed and subjected to psychological and even physical harm.”

Jerry Coyne points out the obvious:

One of the biggest harassers, of course, has been the Church itself, since it officially pronounces gays as “disordered” and “sinful.”

The group Truth Wins Out will be placing this full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune this Sunday, calling for the Cardinal to resign:

It’s not going to make the Cardinal change his mind, but at least it’ll point out his bigotry to a wider audience.

You have to love it when religious leaders do our work for us. By telling the world what they really believe — especially when it’s prejudice like that — they’re exposing the folly of faith on their own. It gives lay Catholics just another thing to have to defend.

Why they choose to remain part of a church that puts hatemongers like this in charge is something they should have to explain.

To make things even better, some Christian groups are jumping on the Bigot Bandwagon, like our friends at the Illinois Family Institute:

As is their wont to do, homosexual activists — ever the embodiment of tolerance and freedom — became livid over Cardinal George’s analogy. As too is customary for homosexual activists, they seem to believe their indignation and “hurt feelings” serve just as well as an actual argument.

How ironic that those who defend a parade that celebrates sexual perversion and violates public indecency laws would describe Cardinal George’s rhetoric as indecent, degrading, undignified, and defiling. It is homosexual acts that are indecent, degrading, undignified, and defiling.

Cardinal George’s analogy is fair and apt. Many homosexual activists harbor unconcealed hatred for not only the Catholic Church but also for all Protestant denominations that hold orthodox views of homosexuality. And these homosexual activists openly express their hatred in vile and vitriolic rhetoric.

The salient question for conservatives is, “Does the analogy work?” In other words, are there points of correspondence between the two ideas or phenomena being compared, and are the points of correspondence relevant to the issue or issues being debated? Whether it offends the sensibilities of those who choose to make their unchosen homosexual attractions central to their identity is irrelevant.

If every Catholic parish and every Protestant church had a leader who would speak the truth about homosexuality with the clarity, conviction, and courage that Cardinal George did, perhaps we could end the sorry spectacle of the Chicago “gay pride” parade for good.

We don’t hate the church for their views.

We feel sorry for the church.

We wish you could learn to love people like we do instead of fighting to take away their rights. We wish you would pay more attention to the positive parts of your holy books (there are some!) than the cherrypicked hateful parts you love to take out of context. We wish that the good people who belong to those congregations didn’t have to be associated with abominable, intolerant, often-self-proclaimed spokespeople for their faith like the folks at IFI.

There’s nothing anti-Catholic about gay pride just as there’s nothing anti-Catholic about the state of Illinois denying the Church funding for their adoption agencies. Cardinal George just wants to pretend like this is all about him, like everyone is against him and his religion. It’s not. No one’s even thinking about him — but he wants to insert himself into the conversation regardless.

There are plenty of reasons to oppose the Catholic Church. But the Gay Pride Parade wasn’t focusing on any of them. Hell, gay Catholics are welcome to join in and show their support :)

In the meantime, let’s hope Cardinal George stays in the spotlight. He speaks for millions of Catholics and he’s showing just how awful their theology can be. He’s doing whatever he can to push people away from the faith every time he opens his mouth and we should thank him for that

***Update***: The Chicago Tribune published an editorial today half-heartedly calling the Cardinal out on his bullshit. The best they can do is say his analogy was “bizarre” — rather, it was downright infuriating and untrue — but they do provide some context about how the Gay Pride Parade has never been anti-religious.

Responding to the blowback, a diocesan spokeswoman said the remarks were taken out of context and suggested people listen to the entire interview. We did. They aren’t. George reiterated them on Wednesday, issuing a statement just when things might have been dying down.

“When the pastor’s request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church,” the statement read. “One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.”

That’s right: As recently as 70 years ago, the KKK openly demonstrated against the Catholic Church. What that has to do with the pride parade is lost on us.

“We have not been violent in seeking out our rights, so for the cardinal to then equate our movement with one of the most heinous and murderous organizations in the history of our country is just baffling,” Martin Grochala of Dignity Chicago told Fox Chicago.

(In 1986, the Klan staged an anti-homosexual rally just before the 17th annual Pride parade, but never mind.)

Over the course of four decades, the Chicago Pride Parade has marched past hundreds of churches without stifling anyone’s religious beliefs. Come June, it will do so again.


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • TychaBrahe

    I disagree.  I hate the Catholic Church.  I also hate the Elders of the Church of Latter Day Saints.  I hate them for the work they did against Prop 8 in California, and for the work they continue to do to prevent or overthrow gay marriage rights laws in all states.

    I especially hate the Catholic Church for continually funding attacks against gays and women.  Joe Gervis over at Joe.My.God keeps throwing up evidence that the Catholic Church funds NOM and other Christianist hate groups.  I remember twenty years ago the overwhelming evidence that they were funding anti-abortion groups like Operation Rescue.  I hate the fact that they are supporting anti-gay groups writing DEATH PENALTY laws in Africa that will make consensual sex between two adult men a crime punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
    Sometimes it’s very hard not to hate individual Catholics and Mormons as representatives of the faceless organizations that are behind this crap.  I do my best not to, because I have many LDS friends and a few Catholic friends.  In many cases, these people share my views, but they continue to support the organizations that are working so hard to put the brakes on human progress.

    • Andrew Morgan

      “Sometimes it’s very hard not to hate individual Catholics and Mormons as representatives of the faceless organizations that are behind this crap.”

      Being a member of a discriminatory and evil organization probably doesn’t make you discriminatory and evil, but it might make you a bad person.  I think less of the Catholics (or Mormons, or Muslims, or whatever) that I know because of their self-description.

    • Lord_Byron

      I agree with tycha. Some might disagree, but i hate the catholic church and the mormon church and the evangelicals for what they do to lgbt people. Mormons were the ones responsible for prop 8. Evangelicals are responsible for the other anti-gay measures and for the kill the gays bills in Africa. Catholic church well we all know the history of that bigoted little cult. I am not even going to act like i have any respect or anything but disdain for those that preach the idea that being gay is wrong and you should be able to execute, imprison for life, or “rape” heal those that are lgbt. 

      Just to add, and yes there are different political branches in the lgbt community, but i find it hard to be nice to those members of the lgbt community who support conservative candidates who view those lgbt members as abominations and sinners in the need of saving. It’s hard for me to view those that appear to vote solely with their wallet with empathy when they  complain about not having equal rights.  

    • Michael D

      Yeah I hate the church for its actions.

    • EJC

      I could not agree with you more!

      I live in California, and a good 50 percent of my friends are GLBT, including my best friend in the world. What I saw happen in my state vis-a-vis the “unholy” alliance of the fucktarded Mormons and the pedophilic Catholics regarding Prop 8 made me physically ill.

      I have no love for them, and anyone who claims they are “moderates” are equally culpable unless they spoke up against, or will speak out against their respective flavors of myth.

      They are disgusting and vile groups.

  • Joolz

    There is a petition mentioned on the truthwinsout.org advert.  It’s not a clickable link in this article, but very easy to find on their website.  It is addressed to the archbishop of Chicago, asking for the resignation of this bigoted cardinal.

  • Fester Sixonesixonethree

    Cardinal George’s perception of reality is extremely skewed. He once said that gays cannot become priests because we are “damaged”. This is a very strange statement coming from a cripple.

  • Anonymous

    A problem here is that the cardinal has no accountability to the people under him.  As long as the other cardinals and the pope are happy with him, his job is secure.  What can the people in the dioceses under him do?  They can’t “fire” him, they can’t “impeach” him, they can’t refuse to vote for him in the next election.  So the cardinal can say any damn stupid thing he pleases with no worries for his job.

    The only leverage there is over him comes from the things that the Vatican DOES care about:  money, and PR.  If the catholics of Chicago all withold their donations until this guy is fired, he’s be out of there in a heartbeat.  But what chance is there of that, when catholics are indoctrinated in obediene their whole lives?  So bad PR it is, then.  Truth Wins Out – keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    In a weird way, I’m thankful for the church being so open about its bigotry. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school through high school.

    I’ve always been of a very progressive/liberal view, partly from growing up in Boston, mainly from my mother’s influence. It was the clash between these views, the better things Jesus supposedly said (if he existed) and the obvious bigotry and intolerance inherent to Christianity, that first caused me to take a second look.

    I was 14, and what I saw made no sense even then. The stories, the beliefs, the whole worldview were completely incoherent, and simply did not fit with reality. So, I refused to be confirmed (this caused rather a commotion in my Irish Catholic family). It wasn’t that I knew I didn’t believe yet, I just had too many doubts to stand up and make vows. (Specifically claiming I believed in Satan, out loud, seemed so silly it had to be a joke!)

    So, I called myself agnostic as soon as I heard the term (say 16ish). Of course, I’d been misinformed that it was a sort of “middle ground” between theism and atheism. By the time I was 18 I’d learned what it really meant, and that I was in fact an atheist. 

    I’m a much better person for this discovery, so for that I’m grateful.

    Still, they really need to fucking stop. Bigots.

  • Yukimi

    Complaining about a parade when catholics LOVE to do parades themselves. Try spending Easter in Seville, having religious parades non-stop for a week… Just venting at the hypocresy apart from everything else.

  • Charles Black

    Its nice to know that idiots like this cardinal damage the credibility of their own organisation the catholic church far better than ‘liberals’ can ever do. Keep up the good work cardinal by spouting more idiocy every time you open your mouth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/larryfiehn Larry Fiehn

    Good editorial in today’s Chicago Tribune calling out the Cardinal. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-cardinal-20111230,0,1589078.story

  • Nena

    But he has a point – they are a lot alike! They both have parades, and they both…um. Have parades…

  • Anonymous

    I never knew that Beldar Conehead became a Cardinal!

  • PJB863

    My late partner referred to George as “Cardinal Cold-Eyes.”  It was a comparison to his predecessor.  I’ll give this guy credit though:  he’s responsible for more people becoming protestants than Martin Luther and more atheists than even Hemant could dream of!  Pretty impressive.

  • Bill

    Wait…I’m confused.  Homosexuality is bad, but when priests screw little boys up the bum, it’s protected and kept secret?  Explain this to me, Mister Cardinal.

    • Nordog

      It’s telling that the former reminds you of the latter.

      • Bill

        Almost as telling as the fact that the former is the official position, and the latter is what they actually do in the catholic church…

        And almost as telling as the fact that the most homophobic and bigoted republicans get caught trolling for twig and berries…

        Reductionism is “teh fun”! 
        :)

    • pjsavoie

      Gays in the Catholic priesthood are not the deliberate product of Catholic dogma.  In Florida, a gay coven in the priesthood perpetuates gay practices by discriminating in FAVOUR of gay seminarians:
      http://gawker.com/5825254/the-catholic-churchs-secret-gay-cabal

  • Hecklectic

    I’m Catholic, but I’m not the Cardinal’s kind of Catholic. I know other Catholics and in the religious sect too that do not believe the way that Cardinal does. Look in the dictionary for the definition of catholic. Corruption has infiltrated Catholicism the way it has the “our” government. It’s name is hatred and it’s job is to divide and destroy everything. There’s is nothing of God in that man.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      You are not a Catholic, but an Episcopalian.
      Catholicism was destroyed by cafeteria Catholics.
      RIP.

  • Rieux

    We wish you could learn to love people like we do instead of fighting to take away their rights. We wish you would pay more attention to the positive parts of your holy books (there are some!) than the cherrypicked hateful parts you love to take out of context.

    Oh, come on. The “hateful parts” of the Bible are very much not “cherrypicked” or “take[n] out of context.” They are overwhelmingly numerous, and they are all the more outrageous in their actual context. Meanwhile, the “some” (in fact very few) “positive parts” of the Bible are entirely “cherrypicked,” and in “context,” they are not nearly as inspiring as Christians and allied Bible fans prefer to pretend.

    I really think we’re capable of responding critically to Catholic homophobia without whitewashing the Bible with absurd nonsense.

  • Nazani14

    I come from a Catholic family, and I’m terribly saddened by what’s happened to the Catholic church.  I could never believe, but I sure admired those priests and nuns who protested against the Vietnam war, against the death penalty, who actually helped people in repressive central and south American regimes.  In my family there was a lot of charity for local families, sewing clothes for children on Indian reservations, etc.  What happened to the leftie Catholics who admired St. Francis and all the poor and charitable saints?  It seems they’ve been infected with the mean spirit of Protestant fundamentalism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

    Many homosexual activists harbor unconcealed hatred for not only the Catholic Church but also for all Protestant denominations that hold orthodox views of homosexuality. 

    It’s true!  Also, many black activists harbor unconcealed hatred for the Klan.

    See? I can compare my opponents to the KKK too!  This is fun!

  • pjsavoie

    They’re very similar groups.  The whole point is to intimidate.  Gays in Ontario openly organize and talk about putting the separate school boards (Catholic) out of existence.

  • http://www.robinlionheart.com/ Robin Lionheart

    Cardinal George thinks too small! Why, he could’ve compared gays to an even worse hate group, more reviled than the KKK:

    “You know, you don’t want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into some kind of movement that makes Catholics wear armbands to set them apart from society, or rounds them up into interment camps.”

    But then, he probably wouldn’t want listeners to remember that last time when that happened, Catholics were persecuting gays.


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