Robert George usually just describes himself as a professor at Princeton University, but lately he’s been stepping out more into the public arena, and with such visibility comes accountability. George is not just a professor, but a leader and lead funder of the Catholic Right. He founded and serves as chairman of the National Organization for Marriage and co-authored the Manhattan Declaration, which calls upon Christians to defy laws if that’s what it takes to maintain Christian anti-gay principles. He also founded the American Principles Project (APP), which sponsored Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) GOP presidential candidate forum on Monday, including George as one of the panelists.
But in addition to his solid anti-gay credentials, George is apparently well-connected to Islamophobia, serving on the board of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, one of the top funders of anti-Islam extremism. In fact, the Bradley foundation has given over $5 million to groups like the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. Unsurprisingly, the Bradley Foundation also supports anti-gay organizations like George’s NOM, the Eagle Forum, the Institute for American Values, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Last week, Faith in Public Life pointed out that Catholicism rejects Islamaphobia and called on George to renounce his connections to it:
George’s support for these conspiratorial extremists is particularly disappointing given his Catholic background, as the Church rejects this hostile approach to Islam. The Vatican has long been engaged in inter-religious dialogue with Muslim leaders, and when a historical quote in a 2006 speech by Pope Benedict appeared to support a more negative view of Islam as intrinsically violent, the Pope quickly apologized and clarified that he has “total and profound respect for all Muslims” and the Quran which he described as “the holy book of a great religion.”
A prominent Catholic intellectual like George should have nothing to do with the rhetoric of these extremists. George should clarify whether he endorses these views his organization is funding, and if not, how he reconciles his position on the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation’s board.
It may be that George is not personally interested in Islamophobia, but continues to serve on the Bradley Foundation board just to get financial support for his anti-gay connections. He did admonish presidential candidate Herman Cain for expressing prejudice against appointing Muslims. It’s much more likely, though, that George appreciates how effectively the two go hand-in-hand. From a conservative Christian point of view, both gays and Muslims are a threat to the country (just ask Sally Kern), and there is arguably more to gain politically and financially by promoting fear of both than by distinguishing between the two. George’s own organization NOM has suggested gays have issued a “fatwa” and are “waging jihad” against Christians. Even if he doesn’t involve himself directly in Islamophobic efforts, George’s anti-gay efforts can (and clearly do) benefit from donors who believe in Christian superiority. It should be no surprise George is taking advantage of that, whether it compromises his Catholic values or not.