Anti-bullying advocate Dan Savage lobs attack at Pope

Elmhurst College Dan Savage CNA US Catholic News 5 7 12 Elmhurst College, Dan Savage.

Anti-bullying advocate Dan Savage, currently under fire for insulting Christian high school students, made an obscenity-laced attack against the Pope in a recent speech at an Illinois college.

As criticism mounts over Savage's recent anti-bullying campaign talks, Catholic League President Bill Donohue called on Elmhurst College officials to apologize for inviting the controversial speaker.

“They had to have known about Dan Savage’s history of offering obscene anti-Catholic rants when they asked him to speak at the campus chapel,” Donohue said May 2. “The president of Elmhurst College must have known – he was certainly there to welcome him.”

Savage, known for his graphic syndicated sex advice column, incited backlash over remarks made at an April 29 appearance in front of an audience of college students.

He said with sarcasm that Pope Benedict XVI's rejection of “gay marriage” is based on the idea that legal recognition of the unions will cause a homosexual act between Savage and movie star Brad Pitt.

Savage also suggested that the Pope is secretly gay and used obscene language to argue that the pontiff believes same-sex “marriage” will make people forget how babies are conceived and cause humanity go extinct.

The Sunday event, held in the United Church of Christ-affiliated college’s Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, was a presentation based on Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign. Savage created the initiative in response to several teen suicides carried out by young people who were gay or perceived to be gay.

The original video launched many prominent imitators who made their own versions, including numerous celebrities, members of the Obama administration and President Barack Obama himself.

In his reaction to Savage's speech, Donohue questioned why Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray had not apologized for the columnist's “vulgar attack on the Pope,” and queried whether Ray agrees with Savage.

The Catholic League sent Donohue’s statement to the Elmhurst College Board of Trustees, local government officials, and Catholic high school principals in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“They should know how this college, which boasts of its commitment to diversity and tolerance, treats Catholics,” said Donohue.

Rev. Bob Ullman, a member of the Elmhurst College Board of Trustees and a minister in the United Church of Christ, sent a May 4 e-mail to the Catholic League characterizing Donohue’s comments as a “rant against Dan Savage and his inflammatory remarks.”

He said it was “inexcusable” for Donohue to attack the character of the college president and to criticize Elmhurst College for “allowing free and open conversation about very difficult issues facing gay and lesbian people.”

Rev. Ullman said his college and church are “willing to walk into the murky waters of human sexuality and Christian morality.”

Savage made news after his April 13 talk in Seattle at the “Journalism on the Edge” conference for high school students. He had been invited to be a keynote speaker and to talk about the power of social media and the bullying of homosexual youths.

During his talk, he attacked biblical condemnations of homosexual acts as “bulls--t.” When objecting students walked out, Savage referred to them as “pansya--ed.”

Critics of Savage have accused him of engaging in the same kind of bullying and intimidation he claims to oppose.

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On April 29, the same day as his address at Elmhurst College, Savage apologized for insulting the students, but not for his obscene descriptions of the Bible. He has previously blamed Christian morality for causing teen suicide.

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