Secular Saboteurs, Unite!: You Have Nothing To Lose But Bill Donohue

Donohue aspires to be a male uber-Catholic version of Ann Coulter.

It is almost Halloween, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised when media monsters lurch into the public square, trick or treating for publicity.

Yesterday, William Donohue appeared as a "Guest Voice" at the "On Faith" section of The Washington Post's Web site. (Really, Post folks, what were you thinking?)

Donohue, as you probably know, is the ever-dyspeptic president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. His essay is a puerile and predictable rant against "America's secular saboteurs," those dangerous and powerful forces determined to preserve civil rights and civil liberties in America.

Donohue aspires to be a male uber-Catholic version of Ann Coulter; he misses the mark but not by much.

Gay rights activists, to Mr. Bill, are descendants of the Marquis de Sade who celebrate a "death-style" and seek to "pervert society by acting out their own perversions." Reproductive choice proponents have driven Catholics from the Democratic Party. (Who knew Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and John Kerry were Zoroastrians?)

"Secularist" Catholics and Protestants (huh?) resist hierarchical authority within their various faith traditions; they are "termites eating away from within."

Artists produce blasphemy and obscenity and attack the sacred. Hollywood – except for St. Mel Gibson – makes movies that bash Catholics where once films were properly "reverential" toward the Catholic Church. (Producer Harvey Weinstein is named as a chief villain; remember, Donohue is the man who once noted darkly that Hollywood is "controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.")

Americans United and the ACLU predictably get our lumps. We allegedly "harbor an agenda to smash the last vestiges of Christianity in America."

"Lying about their real motives," Donohue snarls, "[AU and the ACLU] say their fidelity is to the Constitution. But there is nothing in the Constitution that sanctions the censorship of religious speech. From banning nativity scenes to punishing little kids for painting a picture of Jesus, the zealots give Fidel a good run for his money."

Oh, boy.

I would compare Donohue to Savonarola, the priest who governed Florence as a Catholic theocracy in the late 1400s, but that would be unfair to Savonarola. The Dominican friar burned books and destroyed immoral art, but at least he also opposed the corruption of the clergy; Donohue considers outrage over the sex-abuse scandals surrounding Catholic clergy in our present day to be "grossly unfair."

I am always tempted to ignore Donohue. He is a sad and bitter creature who longs for the Dark Ages. Put him in an exhibit at the Smithsonian – americanus archie bunkerous – so kids can see the rigid, self-righteous world we've generally moved away from.

But, unfortunately, we don't have that luxury. In his column, he calls for an "alliance of religious conservatives across faith lines." Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Mormons, he says, should join forces to revive our "Judeo-Christian heritage" and set up a one-size-fits-all theocracy to impose their will on all the rest of us heathens.

It sounds fantastical, but it's not out of the question. Donohue notes that some 30 states have seen successful alliances of religious conservatives who worked to deny gay couples the civil right of marriage. Right-wing interfaith coalitions on other issues – from restricting reproductive choice to funding faith-based bias – are just as problematic.

So – sigh – we "secular saboteurs" must pay attention to folks like Donohue and see that he and his kind do not succeed in their nefarious schemes.

Halloween will soon be gone, but the Donohues of America will still be here when Nov. 1 dawns. Gird your loins.