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Religious Group Criticizes Jay Leno for Bashing Catholic Teachings

January 25, 2012, 6:38 am GMT

Catholic League takes offense the jokes Leno made on his 'Tonight Show' monologue about an auxiliary bishop who recently stepped down after admitting that he has fathered two children.

Jay Leno

Jay Leno is under attack by Catholic League after joking about a bishop who recently confessed to fathering children. The host poked fun at the church's teachings during his monologue on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" airing on Monday, January 23, which was actually a rerun of a January 5 episode.

"There are those who will say, sure, Leno was tough on the bishop, but what do you expect from a late-night talk show host? After all, had there been no wrongdoing, there would have been no wise crack," the group's president Bill Donohue said before adding, "This view is seriously mistaken."

Claiming that "the most serious cases of the sexual abuse of minors currently taking place are among Orthodox Jewish rabbis in Brooklyn", and that "the rate of HIV/AIDS among homosexuals is 50 times higher than in the rest of the population", Donohue stated, "Yet, Leno would never tell a joke at their expense."

Donohue went on adding, "But if there is one wayward Catholic clergyman, it's not only acceptable to ridicule him, it's okay to mock the teachings of the Catholic Church." He also pointed out that Leno has "a long track record of bashing Catholicism" prior to the recent jokes.

In his monologue, Leno joked about Los Angeles area Bishop Gabino Zavala who resigned after confessing to fathering two children. "I thought bishops could only move diagonally. I didn't know they could move up and down," the 61-year-old said while making hand movements to illustrate his point.

"Isn't it amazing the bishop of L.A. confessed to fathering two children?" he further said to amuse the audience. "But, hey, he didn't use birth control, so at least he followed the church rules. Yah gotta give him credit for that."

It's not the only backlash that Leno is currently facing. The NBC host has also been under fire after featuring the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs in the North Indian city of Amritsar, as the summer home of Republican candidate Mitt Romney in a skit.

India's minister for NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) Vayalar Ravi stated on Monday, "It is quite unfortunate and quite objectionable that such a comment has been made after showing the Golden Temple." Meanwhile, the Sikh community has launched a boycott via Facebook page.

Responding to the issue, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Leno's comment was protected by the U.S. Constitution. "I hope [Leno will] be appreciative if we make the point that his comments are constitutionally protected in the United States under free speech and, frankly, they appeared to be satirical in nature," she told reporters.

She, however, pointed out that the U.S. had "absolute respect" for all Indians, including Sikhs, adding, "Our view is obviously that Sikh Americans have contributed greatly to the United States."

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