"Some people are petitioning to label the Catholic Church as a 'hate group' because of the Church's teaching on same-sex marriage," the new petition reads. "But in the United States, we have this awesome thing called freedom of religion which means we don't have to agree with your efforts to redefine marriage. When you call Catholics hateful for holding this religious opinion, you're being bigoted. And I think we can all agree bigotry is pretty hateful. So, the people who want to designate the Catholic Church as a 'hate group' are actually themselves a 'hate group'."
The petition is in response to a drive by a person of unknown identity who chose Christmas Day as the date to launch a petition protesting an alleged reference by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2012 Christmas address to the College of Cardinals which the petitioner interpreted as offensive to gays.
“Using hateful language and discriminatory remarks, the Pope painted a portrait in which gay people are second-class global citizens,” the petition reads. "Pope Benedict said that gay people starting families are threatening to society, and that gay parents objectify and take away the dignity of children.The Pope also implied that gay families are sub-human, as they are not dignified in the eyes of God.”
It asks the Obama administration to recognize the Catholic Church as a hate group, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Since that time, the ADL has publicly disavowed itself of the petitioner, calling the person "irresponsible" for using their name in the petition.
It has also become apparent that the Pope made no such comments and, in fact, never even used the word "homosexual" in his address.
In response to this attack on the Holy Father and Catholic beliefs, the new petition will attempt to rally Catholics to stand up for the right to act upon their Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.
The dueling petitions are both taking advantage of a White House website called We the People which allows citizens to use the right to petition the government as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. If petitions get 25,000 signatures or more, White House staff will review it, ensure that it's sent to the appropriate policy experts, then issue an official response.
The goal is to reach the required 25,000-signature threshold before the "hate group" petition does so.
Before being able to sign the petition, visitors are required to set up an account. The people who launched this petition are urging all concerned Catholics to do so and to sign the petition, which can be found here.
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