In the exchange reported Tuesday night on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File”, Jennifer Palmieri, now the Clinton campaign’s director of communications, says that politically conservative Catholics “think [Roman Catholicism] is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”
Palmieri was responding to a message from John Halpin, a fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. Halpin remarked on a magazine article that discussed 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch’s decision to raise his children in the Catholic faith.
“Ken Auletta’s latest piece on Murdoch in the New Yorker starts off with the aside that both Murdoch and Robert Thompson, managing editor of the [Wall Street Journal], are raising their kids Catholic,” Halpin wrote. “Friggin’ Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.”
“It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith,” Halpin added. “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”
The exchange was included in a batch of Clinton adviser John Podesta’s hacked emails. Podesta was copied on the exchange between Palmieri and Halpin, but did not comment.
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“This was thinly veiled religious bigotry, not only against conservative Catholics, but also against evangelicals,” former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File.”
“They mock deeply held beliefs. They mock the idea that two conservative Catholics would have their children baptized in the same river where John the Baptist baptized Jesus,” Rove added. “I mean, this is really amazing that they would mock them. What Christians wouldn’t consider it a blessing to be able to afford to baptize their children in the Jordan River? This is so insensitive … I’m gonna say that it’s insensitive, but it strikes me that it really borders on bigotry, religious bigotry.”
There was no immediate response from either the Clinton campaign or that of her opponent, Republican Donald Trump.
“It’s gonna have to be made an issue by Donald Trump and his allies stepping forward and saying ‘This is unacceptable and Hillary Clinton ought to repudiate it,'” Rove added.
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org, called for Palmieri to “resign immediately or be fired” over the comments.
“Everyone has a unique faith journey, and it’s just insulting to make blanket statements maligning people’s motives for converting to another faith tradition. Had Palmieri spoken this way about other groups she would [be] dismissed,” Burch said in a statement.