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Chris Matthews Sneers: 'If You're Really Anti-Gay, You Become Catholic Now'

Chris Matthews appeared at Ford's Theater in Washington D.C., Monday night, for a President's Day panel and sneered that Catholics are attracting bigots. While talking about Richard Nixon, the so-called Southern Strategy and racism, the Hardball host berated: "If you're really anti-gay, you become a Catholic now."

At a question and answer session after the event, I confronted him about the quote and asked him if he wished to "expand or apologize."  He spat back, "I'm saying that some people who are bigoted against gay people have changed religions. Yes. You got it right." [MP3 audio here.]

Matthews added, "I think there are people who have chosen to convert to the Catholic faith because they don't like the liberal positions taken by their sectarian groups. That's a fact. So, you can write that down. No, you can write that down."

At the start of the exchange, I identified myself as with the Media Research Center. Matthews prompted me to explain what the organization does. I did and he visibly sighed and looked irritated.

The liberal Washington crowd repeatedly laughed at the mention of media bias.

Earlier in the night, while discussing the drift of the south from Democrat to Republican, Matthews derided the growth of the Moral Majority and conservative voters as "everything the Democrats are willing to let go." This then led to his comments about Catholicism and gays.

Lincoln historian Harold Holzer and Michael Beschloss, an author and contributor to PBS's Newshour also appeared with Matthews.

[Thanks to Kyle Drennen for shooting the video and uploading it.]

A transcript can be found below.

Presidential Leadership Panel
02/20/12
7:30 PM EST

SCOTT WHITLOCK: Hi, Mr. Matthews, my name is Scott Whitlock. I'm with the Media Research Center and-

CHRIS MATTHEWS: What's the Media Research Center?        

WHITLOCK: we write about liberal media bias.

[Matthews visibly sighs and looks irritated. Audience laughs.]

WHITLOCK: Earlier tonight, you were talking about Nixon and the Southern Strategy and bigotry and things like that you and you said, quote, "If you're really anti-gay, you become a Catholic now." [Audience laughs.] I was wondering if you were saying that bigots become Catholic now and if you wanted to expand or apologize for that? [Audience laughs.]

MATTHEWS: I think there are people who have chosen to convert to the Catholic faith because they don't like the liberal positions taken by their sectarian groups. That's a fact. So, you can write that down. No, you can write that down.

WHITLOCK: So, you're saying Catholicism is drawing bigots? Is that what you're saying?

MATTHEWS: I'm saying that some people who are bigoted against gay people have changed religions. Yes. You got it right.

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.