USCCB hires new spokeswoman for Cardinal Dolan.

Today the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that it has hired Kim Daniels to be a spokeswoman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose term as USCCB president ends in November. (This is a new position, and Sr. Mary Ann Walsh remains director of media relations.) "Daniels brings to the USCCB her experience as director of Catholic Voices USA," according to the press release, "an organization of lay Catholics that works to bring the positive message of the Church across a broad range of issues to the public square. She is also an attorney whose practice has focused on religious liberty matters." The press release does not mention two of Daniels's previous employers: Sarah Palin and the Thomas More Law Center.

Daniels served as Sarah Palin's "personal domestic-policy czar" in 2009 (as part of SarahPAC). And from 2000 to '09 she was a contract employee for the Thomas More Law Center, which was established in 1998 by its current president, Richard Thompson.

Thompson tends to make news by making provocative comments about Islam. In February of last year, for example, he derided Islam as a Trojan Horse, claiming it "has entered America disguised as a religion. But its ultimate objective is political: Destroy America and establish an Islamic nation under Shariah Law." At a 2012 rally for religious freedom, Thompson delivered a fiery speech declaring that for Christians, "peace is not our goal."

According to the Thomas More Law Center's website, one of the group's "key issues" is confronting "the threat of Islam":

Radical Muslims and Islamic organizations in America take advantage of our legal system and are waging a Stealth Jihad within our borders. Their aim is to transform America into an Islamic nation. They have already infiltrated the highest levels of our government, the media, our military, both major political parties, public schools, universities, financial institutions and the cultural elite. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, political leaders still claim Islam is a religion of peace.

In February 2012, Thomas More's director of mission advancement tweeted, "Believe Islam a religion, then support the Becket Fund. Believe it will destroy US, then supt thomasmore.org. This prompted the Becket Fund, which has been running much of the litigation challenging the HHS contraception mandate, to shoot back with a press release titled, "Religious Liberty is Everyones Right Not Just Christians." The statement was signed by William P. Mumma, Mary Ann Glendon, and Robert P. George. (Mollie Wilson O'Reilly covered the Thomas More Law Center for us last year, along with Cathleen Kaveny and Greg Metzger.)

Asked how she squares her own views about Islam with those of Richard Thompson and the Thomas More Law Center, Kim Daniels said, "My own view is that religious freedom and conscience protections should be cherished and protected for people of all faiths," noting that "the statement you refer to [presumably by Thomas More's director of institutional advancement] was made after I left [in 2009]."

While it seems that Thompson's and his organization's statements about Islam became significantly more inflammatory over time, in 2007 Thompson objected to a proposed (now open) New York City English-Arabic public school, claiming it was "nothing more than an incubator for the radicalization that leads to terrorism." He called the school a "Trojan Horse," asserting that "the political goal of radical Islam is to destroy our Judeo-Christian culture." And in 2008 Thompson defended an ex-Marine who was told he could not display on federal property anti-Muslim bumper stickers he'd put on his car. Two decals depicted a no symbol over "The KORAN"; another read, "ISLAM = TERRORISM"; and still another showed a boy urinating on a man wearing a turban. "The banning of these decals is political correctness run amok in the military," Thompson said.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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