Anti-Rights Profile: Knights of Columbus


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Crusaders for Discrimination

This paper is taken from Opposition Notes: An investigative series on those who oppose women’s rights and reproductive health, by Catholics for a Free Choice

As the largest Catholic lay organization in the world,1 the Knights of Columbus can be found in many parishes, where it has traditionally performed charitable works, led fundraisers to help the needy and brought communities together at pancake suppers.

But the Knights have a darker side. The order has pushed a conservative agenda ranging from the highly specific—a complaint against highschoolers reading Catcher in the Rye 2—to systemic opposition to reproductive choice and marriage equality through sizable donations to programs run by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other conservative organizations. The Knights of Columbus uses its manpower and money to push for legislation that does not match the beliefs of many Catholics or the will of the electorate. The Knights continue to wage a decades-long battle against abortion legislation, but what stands out now is the scale of its political expenditures—more than $10 million since 2004—and this does not include funds from the thousands of local fraternity councils and assemblies. The Knights’ funding of anti-same-sex marriage campaigns goes towards a cause that is rejected by most Catholics—polling data reflects a stronger support for same-sex marriage among Catholics than any other Christian faith group, or the American population as a whole.

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