Catholic League president William Donohue sought to correct the record today about a remark that Senator Kerry made last night in the debate:

“When asked about his support for abortion rights, Senator Kerry said, ‘I believe that I can’t legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn’t share that article of faith.’ In making this argument, Kerry erroneously equates the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion with the Church’s dogmatic teachings on such subjects as the Trinity, Incarnation and Immaculate Conception.

“There is a fundamental difference between a human rights issue like abortion, and the Church’s teachings on the Trinity. Were Catholic bishops to advise Catholic legislators to pass laws demanding that all public school students be instructed in the wisdom of the Trinity, they would be crossing the line between church and state. But when the bishops exhort Catholic lawmakers to pass laws aimed at curbing child abuse—whether committed in the womb or after birth—they are exercising their episcopal authority in a responsible way. To suggest otherwise is to cast the bishops as authoritarians who seek to impose their religion on the rest of society, thus fanning, however unwittingly, the flames of anti-Catholicism.

“The same analogy works with other religions. It is one thing for a Jewish senator to push for legislation requiring a reading from the Torah before the start of senatorial committees, quite another to promote hate crimes legislation. Similarly, it is one thing for a Muslim congressman to mandate that all Americans adopt the sexual practices that Muslims observe during Ramadan, quite another to push for laws banning racial profiling. So for Senator Kerry to suggest that he cannot make a civil rights argument protecting the unborn—one which has everything to do with biology, not theology—is pure nonsense.

“If Kerry wants to defend abortion-on-demand, he can do so. But he has no right to position himself as the grand sage who stands up against those bullying bishops.”

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