Catholic Leader Urges John Edwards to Fire Second Blogger After One Quits

Democratic presidential contender John Edwards isn't fit to be president if he can't even fire a campaign Web logger who offended a large voter constituency, the president of the nation's largest Catholic civil rights group said Tuesday.

“If he can’t make a decision of this sort to get rid of bigots on your payroll, then he’s essentially disqualifying himself from the White House. I think he’s finished,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Donohue spoke to shortly after the resignation of one of two bloggers caught in a firestorm after posting controversial remarks — called anti-Catholic by critics — on their Web sites last week.

Amanda Marcotte wrote in her blog that she quit the campaign Monday night after pressure from Donohue and others because "it was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign."

"Bill Donohue — anti-Semite, right wing lackey whose entire job is to create non-controversies in order to derail liberal politics — has been running a scorched earth campaign to get me fired for my personal beliefs and my writings on this blog," Marcotte posted on the Pandagon blog.

Edwards, who said that the entries had personally offended him, last week refused to fire Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, founder of Shakespeare's Sister, after critics said their postings were offensive.

Among the offending entries was Marcotte's, who wrote: “The Catholic church is not about to let something like compassion for girls get in the way of using the state as an instrument to force women to bear more tithing Catholics.”

The posting by McEwan was headlined to address religious conservatives: "What don't you lousy motherf——ers understand about keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds and our families?"

Kate Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, confirmed that Marcotte was "no longer working for the campaign."

Donohue said he's happy that Marcotte has left the campaign, but he won't let up until McEwan hits the road too.

“My guess is the other one will go, too, only because I think she is going to feel alienated,” Donohue said. "I can't just sit here and pretend that one is enough."

Edwards said last week that the postings “personally offended me,” but he decided not to fire the two bloggers.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor or anything else," Edwards said.

"It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people," Edwards said in a statement, adding that he believed of Marcotte and McEwan that "it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith."

Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, a group that supports a woman's right to choose in matters of sexuality and reproductive health, called Donohue's criticism a "cheap shot."

"I believe that spirited, provocative criticism of powerful people and organizations, including the Catholic church, is part of democracy," Kissling said. "I don't always like what people may say but I really think they have a right to do it. Often the sharpest, most provocative critiques are the most on target."

Kissling sent Marcotte a letter of support, which was posted on her blog.

"I wanted to send a message to the Edwards campaign that they should not cave to that sort of bullying," Kissling said about her letter.

In the blog about her resignation, Marcotte said she was attacked because of her "personal, non-mainstream views on religious influence on politics."

Earlier in the day, she had written: "The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where ... women are nothing but vessels."

Donohue responded to that in a statement. “Anyone who actually believes that the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary is ‘generally interpreted’ as being a sexist exercise obviously lives in an anti-Christian ghetto. The 85 percent of Americans who are Christian do not believe this, and most of the other 15 percent do not either. Only those who think ill of Christianity could write such insulting commentary."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.