Pres. Obama’s speechwriter makes anti-Catholic joke

This is the sort of person Pres. Obama chooses for his speech writing staff.  Now we will have to wait to see what POTUS does about this.

From The Catholic League:

The winner at last night’s “Funniest Celebrity” competition in Washington D.C. was White House speechwriter Jon Lovett. In a quip he made about the TSA’s pat downs, he said, “it’s giving a way for, you know, defrocked priests to get their lives back together, giving back to the community, lend a…Well, not lend a hand, but you know.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responds as follows:

Had this been some flunky entertainer appearing in an urban comedy club, no one would blink an eye. But it is at least an interesting window into the mind of one of the speechwriters for the president of the United States: Jon Lovett could have chosen a million examples to poke fun at the TSA, so it is revealing that what he settled on was a former priest guilty of sexual molestation.

This is an administration that has bent over backwards not to offend Muslims. Even in a comedic forum, it would never countenance a joke of this sort that targeted an imam. But for Catholic priests, the White House obviously has a different standard.   [Does President Obama think that his staff can offend Catholics with impunity?]

At the very least, Lovett should never be given an assignment ever again that touches on matters Catholic. And quite frankly, a statement by President Obama on this issue is entirely warranted. We can’t have one standard for Muslims and another for Catholics.

At best this reveals a double-standard.  At worst this reveals gross anti-Catholicism.

He also used abused children as part of his “joke”.

This requires an explanation from the White House.

What do you think?  Am I wrong about this?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Animadversor says:

    Perhaps the real answer is not that this remark was motivated by anti-Catholicism (though Mr. Lovett may perhaps be anti-Catholic), but rather that the President has employed as a speechwriter a man with the taste and sense of propriety of “some flunky entertainer appearing in an urban comedy club.”

  2. benedetta says:

    It’s totally bizarre and it isn’t even funny. Out of all the myriad possibilities and this is what the guy comes up with?

    While making this known to the President it could also be pointed out that the TSA’s current policy effectively singles out and embarrasses our good and faithful religious in habits. They are our Church and represent us to the world while traveling and knowing these faithful orders as we do no doubt offer a gentle, smiling, simple example…often youthful as well.

    Maybe the President could check in with Oprah who could put him in touch with America’s sweethearts, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist who could in turn school this gentleman as to what Catholics are all about.

  3. Kris says:

    I agree with Animadversor’s comment.
    It’s not unreasonable that a statement should be warranted.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Does anyone of the commentators here have contacts on Fox, CNN, or other news stations? This needs to be big news.

  5. wchoag says:

    [Does President Obama think that his staff can offend Catholics with impunity?]

    I am sure that he does think this because he can and is doing so.

    At best this reveals a double-standard. At worst this reveals gross anti-Catholicism.

    I think that both counts are correct.

    Catholics are and always have been the object of scorn and bigotry in these United States. We need to develop a manner of responding to these things much stronger than hauling out Bill Donohue and the Catholic League every time something like this occurs, responses that will last in people’s minds for years rather than until the next MSNBC news crawl.

  6. Magpie says:

    Both counts are correct. America needs rid of Obama and his demonic minions, and fast.

  7. HyacinthClare says:

    I absolutely agree with Supertradmum (as I almost always do!) Fox needs to pick this up and make a really big deal of it.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Please recall what type of “church” the Obamas attended for seventeen years-a Church which believes that the Blacks, not the Jews, are the Chosen People of God; a Church which is non-sacramental; a Church which believes in Black Liberation Theology-that Christ is a political Messiah. Is it any wonder that POTUS hates the Roman Catholic Church? After all, our present Pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, published the death knell for Liberation Theologians.

  9. St. Louis IX says:

    Lets be honest here. We brought this on our selves. Look at the Catholics around him Pelosi/ Biden/Kerry etc…How about in the enteretainment world? How about the seemingly UNunited Bishops, How about a secular militant nuns, How about everyday Catholics….This President has no respect for us, Because as a whole We Don`t Respect our selves.
    My Jesus Mercy

  10. Supertradmum says:

    St. Louis IX,

    Your comment does the same thing that people who support Islamist terrorists as victims do. These highly educated people in Washington do not need bad examples or lukewarm clergy to feed their prejudices. They are not victims, but perpetrators of blasphemy and slander, period.

  11. benedetta says:

    The video is posted on the web. It appears that this slur is the central joke of his routine. He obviously planned this out. Apparently he had been a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton. You can imagine his planning/thought process…”got to make fun of somebody here…but who?…I know…um, priests!” Even Spongebob Squarepants understood how he was being intolerant in his stand-up routine…(don’t watch much tv in this house but I do admit to permitting a little Spongebob now and then who is kind of funny in his determinedly innocent geekiness). Do faithful Catholics figure in to the President’s staff at all? Wonder how the “Catholics for Obama” feel about this.

  12. St. Louis IX says:

    @ Supertradmom
    I know what they are, thats the easy part! I don`t make an excuse for them, nor vote for them.
    People like them know weakness when they see it, and they exploit it every chance they can.
    Catholics need to start being Catholic, in private and in public. We need to lead by example at every turn.I don`t condone this nor should we be silent about it.
    The Fact remains that Catholics Themselves have tarnished and weakend their Church and how the public percieves our Holy Faith.

  13. JohnMa says:

    I know this won’t be popular but I think all this shows is that there is a double standard. Let’s face it, our bishops failed us when it comes to clergy sexual abuse. Sure, there is abuse like this in other clergy and in society as a whole but there was a major problem within the Catholic Church on this matter. I think that when we in the Catholic blogosphere start to go crazy about this sort of stuff it decreases our credibility on the more important issues such as the post on Gov. Quinn below or religious freedom for priests serving in our armed forces. I like to fight battles just as much as everyone else here but there is a point where you just have to laugh and say “well, this is our cross to carry thanks to our leadership.”

  14. Scott W. says:

    He should at least be fired for being a bad joke teller.

  15. boko fittleworth says:

    Doug Kmiec has a piece in Newsweek explaining why this is no big deal.

  16. Mike says:

    I think it’s about as funny as cancer.

    The guy should be canned.

  17. teomatteo says:

    It is such poor ‘comedy’ that for it to be part of the ‘winner’ is just … welll.. they should be embarrassed. That shtick has been so over-used kinda like: “i just flew in from New York, boy are my arms tired”….pathetic.

  18. Supertradmum says:


    If we do not stand up for ourselves, we shall be murdered, or imprisoned, or exiled. Do not doubt it. No laughing matter….

  19. samgr says:

    Many Catholics, myself included, have been making fun of other Catholics all our lives. The real probblem is the double standard. No one would joke in public about the New Jersey rabbi convicted of murdering his wife or the Ground Zero imam who was fined as a slumlord. Why should Catholics be uniquely the object of religious ridicule by public officials?

  20. Random Friar says:

    Call or write the White House. If they get enough messages, they -get- the message.

  21. MarkJ says:

    Obama has gone out of his way to side with rebellious “Catholics” and to appoint them to his administration. He forced the Most Holy Name of Jesus to be covered over when he spoke at Georgetown. He knowingly caused scandal in the Church by speaking at Notre Dame. He is fanatically pro-abortion and is forcing Catholics to pay for abortions in the US and overseas. He is an ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood. And he has appointed Marxist and Socialists to his administration. Is it any wonder that his speechwriter cracks an anti-Catholic joke?

  22. Joe in Canada says:

    I am cynical enough to think that at the cocktail reception before the next Al Smith dinner-thingy the President will speak seriously to the Archbishop who will frown and nod his head and then they’ll both laugh and sit down to dinner together.
    Yes indeed, what are all the Catholic Democrats and the Catholics for Obama saying about this? Making light of child abuse?

  23. Absolutely right. They must apologize. Catholics are not second class citizens.

  24. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Is there any external corroboaration to the story. After Donohue’s bizarre tirade against the Smithsonian, how do I know that he’s not trying to create a diversion?

    That said, if the story is true, I’m not sure which is more troublesome–that he writes for the POTUS or that he won the competition.

  25. Aaron B. says:

    “Does President Obama think that his staff can offend Catholics with impunity?”

    It’s been working for him so far.

    One of the unspoken stories about this administration is the low quality of its members. When you elect a mid-level technocrat with no experience from Chicago, it’s no surprise that he ends up surrounded by crass thieves and fools. Our last couple presidents weren’t exactly statesmen, but most people don’t realize just how low we’ve sunk this time. At least the Clinton people kept their bigotries mostly to themselves — remember when they tried to decorate the White House Christmas tree with condoms and crack pipes? This bunch doesn’t see any need to do that.

  26. Father G says:

    How can one contact Mr. Lovett?

  27. Jerry says:

    @benedetta – “While making this known to the President it could also be pointed out that the TSA’s current policy effectively singles out and embarrasses our good and faithful religious in habits.”

    How does the policy single out those in religious habits?

    Fort hat matter, how do the TSA screeners know those in habits are actually religious. If they gave nuns in habit a pass on the screening, what would keep a terrorist from dressing in a nun’s habit to conceal contraband?

  28. dad29 says:


    The entire Obama Administration is an affront to the country as a whole, so this bozo’s remark is not exactly ‘earthshaking revelation’. He’s merely another slimeball employed (where else?) but in (D) DC.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    One of my grandmother’s favorite phrases–“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” seems appropriate here. Either a person or an administration has “class”, or it doesn’t. A story from wiki:

    Jackson was the first President to invite the public to attend the White House ball honoring his first inauguration. Many poor people came to the inaugural ball in their homemade clothes. The crowd became so large that Jackson’s guards could not hold them out of the White House. The White House became so crowded with people that dishes and decorative pieces in the White House began to break. Some people stood on good chairs in muddied boots just to get a look at the President. The crowd had become so wild that the attendants poured punch in tubs and put it on the White House lawn to lure people out of the White House. Jackson’s raucous populism earned him the nickname King Mob.

  30. digdigby says:

    As a former NY stand up comic I am also offended by the tortuously convoluted joke structure, the lack of ‘surprise’ and the banality of the comparison. After barely a year as a Catholic convert, I’ve already got rhino-hide.

  31. Margo says:

    For some reason it’s always the Catholics who get slammed. I agree with samgr and others.

  32. Roguejim says:

    If a joke of this nature can cause such griping, how will any of you handle a real persecution? I thought we were warned to expect persecution anyway. No one is going to get fired over this. No one is going to get reprimanded. The news networks won’t “run with it”. At best, you might get some disingenuous apology from someone. Probably not. So, quit crying, and spend more time in front of the monstrance.

  33. irishgirl says:

    This is NOT FUNNY–and this guy should be canned!
    I’m soooo tired of Catholics being made a punching bag and the butt of stupid jokes.
    Can you imagine if he used ‘iman’ or ‘rabbi’ instead of ‘priest’? Or even a black minister? There would be howls of protest from the aggrieved parties and calls for his head [not literally, of course].
    But noooo….it seems that Catholics, and particularly Catholic priests, are fair game in this administration.
    I’ll be so glad when we vote Obama out of office come 2012! And that year’s election can’t come any sooner!
    Way to go, Bill Donohue, our Irish pitbull! He’s always on it!

  34. berenike says:

    Och, get some perspective, people. This combox sounds like mutual affirmation society for the professionally offended. The combox (and the post, and Donoghue) are just feeding the Offence Monster that the Thought Police use instead of alsatians.

  35. Thom says:

    This is bad enough but what puzzles me is why there has been no condemnation by anyone in the Church of the TSA’s groping and virtual strip searching. Are they not gross offenses against our dignity as human beings?

  36. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Even setting aside the Catholic aspect, its in poor taste. This is a man working for the President, and joking that the TSA is hiring pedophiles to do invasive pat-downs on people (of all ages). That kind of comment, even when obviously being said in attempted jest, is inappropriate.

    However, I get really tired of people trotting out the “if this were the muslims…” excuse every time we see anti-Catholic bias. Who cares how the muslims would respond or how people treat muslims (especially since its done out of fear, and not respect). We should simply learn to call bigotry what it is and not worry about how other groups deal with statements.

  37. ipadre says:

    Yes, they will bend over backwards for Muslims, but, they will say we Catholics are too serious, it’s only a joke!

    Anti-Catholicism, yes! And I say, only the beginning! Don’t forget, we’re “bigots” and deserve to be punished, ridiculed and kicked.

  38. This has to end. You’re right on the money, Father Z. The Church should not – and CAN NOT – remain silent when such blatant slams are made against her. How can one contact Mr. Lovett or someone in a position to handle complaints?

  39. Bona says:

    Pray for our priests daily! If some of you are offended, how much more might this offend the 99.97% of priests who are marvelously faithful and who are sometimes scorned when they appear in public in their appropriate occupational attire!

  40. cyejbv says:

    I agree that the comment wasn’t surprising, but it was still nonetheless unacceptable. Not professionally offended. That would mean I am paid to be irritated. ;) I do it free of charge.
    I too have a ‘rhino hide’ as mentioned by digdigby, but it’s somewhat permeable in that I don’t think we should stand, or blog, idly by in light of the comment!
    According to most current #s I could find, these from USCCB website, there are 68,503,456 Catholics in the United States (22% of the U.S. population). Who among us will take action to protest this effrontery? One half of one percent of that 68 million is 3.4 million emails or calls! Of course, even such large numbers are insignificant when one recalls what St Teresa of Avila said: “I am afraid that if we begin to put our trust in human help, some of our Divine help will fail us.” So, who among us then will ALSO pray? She also said that you pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him…It would be great indeed if we were afforded respect by the Presidents speech writer!! Barring that, it would then be (dare I all cap?) GREATER if he found himself looking for new employment.
    Rather than merely posting-blogging-discussing, I hope many feel an obligation to email, call or write to the President in protest of his speech writers comments…I’m sure most of you already have, but just in case, I’d like to make it easy and encourage you to do it now, info below.
    Well. Pray first.
    Maybe Father Z can write a prayer for this endeavor as he did for the surfing the internet :) (there is an email form under the contact tab)

    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Phone Numbers
    Comments: 202-456-1111
    Switchboard: 202-456-1414
    FAX: 202-456-2461

  41. cyejbv says:

    oops I deleted part of my sentence: 10% of us is 6.8 million, one half of that percent is 3.4- sorry bout that!

  42. Microtouch says:

    Typical liberalism. Ditto Bona.

  43. Supertradmum says:


    disagree–We are being persecuted already in some areas, but where we can fight back and take a stand, we should. I hope you are not one of those who thinks the Crusaders had no right to fight the Islamists when those took over Jewish and Christian lands. Some fight, some pray, some do both. After all, we are called the Church Militant.

  44. Calypso says:

    I don’t think you’re wrong at all, Father. While I firmly believe the TSA has already gone too far with their intrusive evading of our rights to modesty and self-dignity — shame on Jon Lovett for his public joke made at the expense of Catholic priests! How right it is that “[t]his is an administration that has bent over backwards not to offend Muslims.” Keeping that in mind, I think Catholics deserve an apology.

  45. Calypso: He also used abused children as part of his joke.

  46. [Does President Obama think that his staff can offend Catholics with impunity?]

    Yeah, pretty much. Over 50 percent of “Catholics” voted for him, despite his record on things like abortion, same sex relationships, etc. If these 50 % took their faith seriously, he wouldn’t have been elected. So, we all get walked over.

    The day B.O. starts caring what Catholics think of him is the day the 50% will vote in accordance with their Church. Not going to happen, sadly.

  47. EXCHIEF says:

    I disagree with the assertion that Catholics have brought such ridicule upon themselves. Some CINO’s may be guilty of that, but CINO’s are NOT the Church. Obama dislikes the Church because it stands for everything he doesn’t. Obama dislikes the Church because in spite of some liberal democrat “Catholic” clergy bowing to him he knows that the official position of the Church on most issues is 180 degrees off his position. Obama, and his representatives (including speech writers) are a bunch of cowardly little wimps. They throw it in their opponents face knowing that nothing will happen to them. Makes them feel important and powerful–which objectively they are not of course. They are pathetic excuses for “leaders” and in fact pathetic excuses for human beings.

  48. EXCHIEF says:

    Oh, and I did contact the White House with a protest and request for an apology

  49. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Pray for our enemies.

  50. isabella says:

    The joke was inexcusable. Try walking around with pictures of Mohammed embroidered on your jeans pockets and see who the real bigots are. I might try that the next time I fly.

    As far as TSA – I don’t know. I have mixed feelings. I was returning from a retreat with cloistered nuns and I don’t want to say where because I don’t want to get the TSA agent in trouble. I was asked to respect the convent’s dress code, so I was wearing a long flowing skirt and a long sleeved blouse. I was also wearing a crucifix and the airport was close enough to the convent to know why I was dressed the way I was ( plus they asked me and I told them). The poor girl who had to pat me down seemed more embarrassed than I was and barely touched me.

    But it still angers me to be singled out for being Catholic. Just don’t know what to do other than vote and pray.

  51. basilorat says:

    For the record: I thought it was HYSTERICAL!!!!
    For the record: We have our spineless, corrupt episcopacy to thank for all these jokes. They wouldn’t be made if the less than 3% culprit-priests were discovered and dealt with appropriately from the beginning by the bishops.

    So, thank you Your Excellencies! Well-done! And now suddenly you are all scandalized by all this when the media is all of a sudden on you. No worries. Accept the VP of the USCCB!

    All things are possible when you kill your conscience.

    So bloggers…let me have it. The first part was serious, the last part was pure sarcasm.

  52. basilorat says:

    Oh…and while I think Barak Hussein Obama IS ANTI-CATHOLIC, I don’t believe this was an anti-Catholic statement or meant as such. It was an obvious joke directed at some priests. So I think it’s overreacting to call it anti-Catholic, with all due respect to Fr. Z and Mr. Donohue whom I both respect immensely.

  53. Mike Morrow says:

    Come on, now! Get a grip.

    Quite clearly U.S. “Catholics” richly deserve this. Fifty-four percent of them voted for the obscenity that is in office today. The percentage was likely even higher among U.S. priests and bishops of the novus ordo cult. If presidential elections were held today, a majority would vote for the obscenity still. (Are there any doubts about, say, Massachusetts, one of the most “Catholic” states in the Union?)

    This little “joke” by a minor staff flunkey is a very trivial matter compared to the obscenity’s ardent and enthusiastic support of infanticide, which was very well known prior to the election.

    By their actions (and their votes) you shall know them.

  54. Robert of Rome says:

    I agree with every word that Mike Morrow wrote above.

  55. Roguejim says:

    Supertradmum says:
    3 December 2010 at 5:23 pm


    disagree–We are being persecuted already in some areas, but where we can fight back and take a stand, we should. I hope you are not one of those who thinks the Crusaders had no right to fight the Islamists when those took over Jewish and Christian lands. Some fight, some pray, some do both. After all, we are called the Church Militant.

    Roguejim says:
    You are not to be taken seriously, comparing crackpot jokes to Muslim invasions. And, you are no Crusader.

  56. Kerry says:

    Did anyone commenting here hear Lovett’s voice…? It was the (to me) typical, demasculated metro sexual, Seinberg voice, as Gerard Vanderleum wrote about here- I heard a petulant, smarmy, snickering little boy, filled with empty self.

  57. Kerry says:

    Oops, Seinfeld.

  58. frjim4321 says:

    Bill Donohue is a gadabout who makes Catholicism look ridiculous. He is best ignored. That being said, we are going to take it on the chin from time to time as a result of the sexual abuse crisis. Was the joke from John Lovett a cheap shot? Probably. But we did it to ourselves and it will take a couple generations (assuming the safe environment programs are effective) for this to settle down.

    Meanwhile, every day that Cdl Law retains his lavish reward in Rome is one more day that complete healing from the crisis is delayed.

  59. SimonDodd says:

    It seems to me that the joke is at the expense of defrocked pedophiles rather than Catholics, and that if the latter scream about how offended they are, they’re blundering into the bear trap that Lovett laid for them.

  60. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    Bill Donohue is a gadabout who makes Catholicism look ridiculous. He is best ignored.

    I’m not a big Donohue fan, but he’s way down the list on who and what has made Catholicism look ridiculous. The list is long, among others, is found the Bishops’ War and Peace Pastoral of the 80’s, Cardinal Bernardin, 90% of the liturgy I’ve experienced at US parishes, “Catholic” politicians like the Kennedys (cf abortion), poorly trained priests, goofy sisters . . .

    That being said, we are going to take it on the chin from time to time as a result of the sexual abuse crisis. Was the joke from John Lovett a cheap shot? Probably. But we did it to ourselves and it will take a couple generations (assuming the safe environment programs are effective) for this to settle down.

    What do you mean “we”?

    And it’s not a matter of “safe environment programs”–that’s little else than PR Kool Aid. It’s a matter of good seminaries producing good priests.

    Meanwhile, every day that Cdl Law retains his lavish reward in Rome is one more day that complete healing from the crisis is delayed.

    Not to defend Cdl Law, but I don’t think his reward in Rome is any more lavish than that of Abp Weakland, who looted the archdiocesan treasury to pay hush money to his boyfriend.

  61. I just wrote a comment and sent it to the White House. I would encourage all of you to do the same. If this offends us, we can no longer remain silent.

  62. ikseret says:

    It seems this story died. It only proves the hate and disdain for Catholicism.

    Meanwhile, let’s think about it. Followers of ISLAM have and still plan to carry out terrorist attacks. OBAMA violates civil rights by unreasonably searching people saying its necessary to protect us (from whom???-oh Muslims). Obama’s clown then jokes about the indecent violation of rights by comparing it to the clergy scandal. But, the way its done leaves us forgetting MUSLIMS want to kill us and our GOVERMENT is abusing us. It only leaves us remembering that priests were guilty sexual abuse.
    It’s a masterful stroke of popular anti-Catholicism and deflection. What a wonderful tribute to the craftiness of a tyrannical regime.

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