ORLANDO, FL, December 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Famed comedian Bob Newhart has canceled a headline show at a conference for Catholic business leaders after a homosexual activist group ran a campaign portraying the organizers as “anti-gay.”

After learning of the 84-year-old comedian’s scheduled appearance at the Legatus Summit in Orlando on February 6, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) began urging him last week to back out. Activists also organized a petition at Faithful America that garnered 17,000 signatures.

Legatus, which was begun by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan in 1987 to network Catholic business leaders, is faithful to the Church’s Magisterium and therefore upholds the Church’s teachings on all moral matters including homosexuality.

“It’s unfortunate that Bob Newhart has decided not to perform at Legatus’ annual Summit in February,” Legatus Executive Director John Hunt told LifeSiteNews.com. “It’s clear from stories in the media that certain organizations have asked him to cancel his appearance.”

Hunt continued, “Despite the rhetoric in these news reports, Legatus is a faith-based organization that proudly holds firm to the teachings of the Catholic Church especially, in this case, to the teachings on human sexuality.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church bases itself on the Bible, calling homosexual sex “acts of grave depravity” and the inclination toward homosexuality “objectively disordered.” At the same time, it says those with same-sex attractions “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

Newhart, a lifelong Catholic, announced the cancellation on his Facebook and Twitter accounts Wednesday. “Upcoming Bob Newhart Tour Date Change -- Bob will not be performing at the Legatus Summit in Orlando FL on February 6th, 2014,” the post said.

Legatus magazine's most recent edition featured a profile and interview with the comedian called "Bob Newhart: A Stand-Up Guy."

GLAAD praised Newhart’s decision Thursday. "Newhart is merely siding with the majority of fair-minded Americans who do not support the anti-LGBT agenda of organizations like Legatus," said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s vice president of communications.

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"These groups constantly struggle to find high-profile people of faith to speak at their events, but at a time when more and more people of faith are accepting of LGBT people, they will continue to be left to choose between increasingly fringe figures,” he added.

The homosexual activist group launched the campaign in a December 12 post titled “Bob Newhart, don't become the next Kirk Cameron!”

They highlighted a number of Legatus’ pro-life and pro-family activities and statements, such as its promotion of Pope Benedict’s “non-negotiable” issues at the ballot box, one of which is same-sex “marriage.” They also quoted a piece from Legatus magazine by Dr. John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, where he discussed the possibility of overcoming same-sex attraction through therapy.

“Personally, I'm choosing to believe that he just doesn't know and that this booking is the result of bad advice,” wrote author Jeremy Hooper, GLAAD’s special projects consultant. “GLAAD is reaching out to Mr. Newhart's representatives to let them know how, exactly, an appearance at this event will come across to LGBT people and allied voices.”

“I am hoping that I am right, and Mr. Newhart doesn't want to go down that path,” he added. “He can still express his Catholic faith in a way more consistent with the rest of American Catholics, by loving and supporting his LGBT friends and family. GLAAD is urging him to do the right thing.”

During his career, Newhart has worked with homosexuals or acted in plots dealing with homosexuality a number of times. He starred in the 1997 pro-homosexual film In & Out and last year won an Emmy for his guest role appearing alongside homosexual actor Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory.

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