Education

January
Sarasota, FL
 — The Sarasota County Superintendent of Schools David Bennett was profiled in Sarasota magazine. In the profile, Mr. Bennett was quoted as saying his interest in civil rights started when, as a child in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s, he heard that the Catholic Church was buying up homes in certain areas so that blacks couldn’t purchase them. He provided no evidence of this charge or explanation for the statement, which appears to have been hearsay around the dinner table when he was growing up.

January
Los Angeles, CA
 — The University of Southern California’s Fisher Gallery hosted an art exhibit called “Crossing Boundaries.” Among the pieces in the exhibit were “The Source, Virgins and Crosses” and “El Nino’s Wake.” The former is made of 30 crosses and a blank outline of Our Lady of Guadalupe images without Mary; instead, her halo is left to resemble a vaginal orifice. In the latter artwork, it appears the Baby Jesus is naked at a wake.

January
Oregon City, OR
 — At the Pauling Center at Clackamas Community College art was displayed called “Two Popes Boinking” which featured two men wearing papal tiaras having sex. The Catholic League wrote to the president of the school to complain. The faculty subsequently voted to remove the artwork from the gallery. A panel discussion was held on the controversy that included a representative of the Archdiocese of Portland.

January 26
Blackwood, NJ
 — A thirteen-year-old honor student at C.W. Lewis Middle School received an assignment in which he was to write about the purpose of spring break. When the student wrote that the original purpose was to give time off for Easter, his teacher objected. The teacher told the student that he was not allowed to write about religion and if he did, he would get a zero. After the Catholic League provided guidance, the issue was satisfactorily resolved. The student was allowed to have his essay graded on its merits.

February
Greenville, SC
 — Bob Jones University became the center of media attention during the presidential primary season when its anti-Catholic philosophies came to light. On it’s website, the fundamentalist Protestant school referred to Catholicism as a “cult.” It also stated, “The Roman Church is not another Christian Denomination. It is a satanic counterfeit, an ecclesiastic tyranny over the souls of men…the Mother of Harlots…a monstrous abomination.”

March
Walker County, AL
 — Officials of the Walker County public school system told Kandice Smith, a sixth grader at Curry Middle School in Jasper, that she could not wear a gold cross outside her mandatory school uniform. The girl and her family sued school officials to overturn a policy against such items. The officials said they had an interest in “keeping distractions down” and in cracking down on gang clothing. The school district finally reached an agreement with the family, permitting the student to wear her cross.

March
Springfield, OR
 — Thurston High School entered a statewide acting competition with the play “The Wool Gatherer.” The play makes reference to a boy and girl whipping each other with rosary beads. Parents complained about this scene and other scenes in other plays entered in the competition including some that were sexually explicit. The sexually explicit scenes were edited out. The anti-Catholic scene remained.

March 8
St. Louis, MO
 — The Organization of American Historians decided to hold its annual meeting at St. Louis University, a Catholic school. A group of Jewish historians objected to the venue. The group said the crucifixes in the classrooms were symbols of “lethal anti-Semitism.” “To us,” wrote one historian, “it [the crucifix] is a particular potent historical symbol of aggressive, even lethal anti-Semitism.” The historian went on, “If they really want to spare the feelings of Jews,” Christians “shouldn’t display the cross on the outside of their churches, or wear crosses around their necks. Indeed, Christians shouldn’t even have crosses inside their churches, or inside their purses or pockets, because it is the same anti-Semitic symbol, hidden though it is from their Jewish brethren. In fact, the hiddenness [sic] makes it seem even more sinister and sneaky.”

March 14
New York, NY
 — Channel One Network makes its way into classrooms around the country, including Catholic schools. During the papal trip to the Holy Land, articles by Cindy Lin for the Channel One Network were biased against the Church under the guise of education. She stated that the papal apology was “the first time any pope has made a public plea for forgiveness for the horrors committed by Catholic groups over the centuries.” Another claimed that “the church is said to have treated badly groups such as women, gays, minorities and the poor.”

March 28
Texas
 — Dena Marks, head of the Texas ADL, equated prayer with hate speech during Court TV’s “Pros and Cons.” The discussion was about a practice in a Texas school district that allowed students to speak to the crowd before a football game, choosing a prayer if they wished. The practice was being reviewed by the U. S. Supreme Court. Marks said, “When it [prayer] excludes certain people, when it excludes the people who aren’t the majority or the people who aren’t saying that prayer, that can also be a trigger for hatred.”

April 12
Poughkeepsie, NY
 — Vassar College hosted a forum on “Literature, Homosexuality, and Catholicism in the Nineteenth Century,” featuring Richard Dellamora from Trent University in Canada and Ellis Hanson from Cornell. The forum was sponsored by the English Department, the Office of the President and the Queer Coalition. During the talks, Hanson equated Christianity with sadomasochism. Hanson charged the Church with being both homophobic and homoerotic. Dellamora said that the Crucifixion is a symbol of sexual dissidence. In advance of the talks, the Catholic League had contacted the Vassar president’s office to get more information on what would be discussed. The president’s office admitted it didn’t know but said that it didn’t matter what the subject was because President Frances Daly Ferguson supports “free speech and the gay students.”

May
Several college Christian student groups came under fire for their religious beliefs. At Tufts University in Massachusetts the Tufts Christian Fellowship was “derecognized” and lost all funding from the school because the organization would not let a bisexual student hold a leadership position. The group believed homosexual activity was incompatible with their beliefs. Similar restrictions were applied at other schools to prevent Christian groups from maintaining organizations compatible with their beliefs.

Middlebury College in Vermont enacted anti-bias language that said no student may be eliminated from being considered for leadership in any campus groups because of beliefs or identity. And at Whitman college in Washington State, an evangelical group is under fire because a student bylaw says groups are not allowed to consider one sexual orientation superior to another.

May
East Lansing, MI
 — The State News, the student newspaper at Michigan State University, featured a comic strip called “Fetus X” that regularly ridiculed Jesus.

May 2
Roslyn Heights, NY
 — The student newspaper of Roslyn High School published its annual April Fools issue May 2—a full month late. Among the articles offensive to Catholics was one comparing a student to Jesus. Following a complaint from Catholic League Long Island chapter president Frank Schroeder, Roslyn High principal Dr. Jason Stoller agreed the edition of the paper “crossed the line” and was particularly offensive at Easter. He then wrote a response that was published in the student newspaper.

June
Claremore, OK
 — Rogers State University offered an art appreciation telecourse called “A World of Art: Works in Progress.” In the course was a video called “Temple of Confessions.” It featured a depiction of a Madonna with an exposed potbelly dragging a cross into a religious ceremony being led by a priest with two devil’s horns. Cannibalism was also shown. Following complaints from the Catholic League, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating agreed some of the images were objectionable. School officials responded that the content of the telecourse was a matter of academic freedom.

July/August
Providence, RI
 — The Brown Alumni Monthly of Brown University printed an analysis of how students substitute the profane for the sacred. In the article, author Ryan Humphrey offered up the usual canard of Pope Pius XII’s “silence” during the Holocaust.

July 27
San Diego, CA
 — The play “Sheridan” began a run at the La Jolla Playhouse on the campus of the University of California at San Diego, a state school. The play depicts a priest character as cruel and manipulative.

August 1
Miami, FL
 — The Florida International University publication The Beacon published an article by Steve Coats that charged, among other things, that Pope John Paul was a “doddering old fool”; Catholic priests have been “bum-rushing altar boys for as long as history has been recorded”; the Vatican promotes “homophobia”; Catholicism is to blame for the killing of Matthew Shepard (the Wyoming man who was murdered because he was a homosexual); the pope should “come out of the closet”; the Church is the world’s largest stockholder; and the Church is “evil.”

September
New Hyde Park, NY 
— A course to be taught in the Herrick School District in New Hyde Park, NY, on the Jews of Italy planned to include a “trial” of Pope Pius XII. After contact from the Catholic League, the superintendent apologized saying it was a mistake to say there would be a trial. The teacher of the course told the Catholic League that there would be a discussion of Pope Pius XII, but no trial.

September
Virginia
 — The ACLU is appealing after a district court allowed Virginia schools to proceed with a “moment of silence” in public schools. It brought the case because among the actions allowed in the moment of silence would be silent prayer.

October 5
Santa Fe, NM 
— Officials of the Santa Fe school district threatened to paint over a mural dedicated to the late Cesar Estrada Chavez at the elementary school also named after him. The mural included images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and crucifixes. School officials said the move to cover-up the mural came because of concerns over the separation of church and state.

November
Brooklyn, NY — A large mural adorned a wall used for handball at an intermediate school in a high crime area. A local artist had been commissioned by a neighborhood resident to pay tribute to the 27 youngsters killed in the area. The mural was painted over when school officials discovered that Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary were featured.

November 1
Urbana-Champaign, IL 
— Catholics for a Free Choice ran an advertisement in the University of Illinois student newspaper, the Daily Illini, that misrepresented Church teaching on abortion. On Election Day, the campus Catholic Newman Center priests and students responded with an ad headlined, “The Catholic Church is pro-life.” The ad was signed by hundreds of students and included the text of a statement on abortion written by the bishops.

November 13
Wilmington, DE
 — The News Journal of Wilmington ran a story on a talk at the University of Delaware by Jack P. McGough, who was identified as a “nationally known Holocaust educator” and a professor at the University. In his talk, McGough singled out the Catholic Church for being the worst denier of the Holocaust.

In investigating McGough, the Catholic League discovered that he was not a nationally known expert on the Holocaust or any other historical subject, that he is neither an author, historian nor social scientist, and that he was not a professor at the University of Delaware. The News Journal subsequently ran a correction.

November 21
Newton County, GA 
— The Newton County school board voted to remove the words “Christmas Break” from their school calendar and replace it with “Semester Break.” The change came under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union which claimed the word “Christmas” constituted “an endorsement of a particular religion.”

December
Cobb County, GA
 — Durham Middle School principal Linda Clark sent a memo to teachers and staff telling them not to use the word “Christmas” because “it is important that our lessons, discussions and decorations remain religion-free.”

December
Lafayette Parish, LA
 — Rastafarian students in Lafayette Parish are being defended by the ACLU after they were banned from school for wearing their hair in braids and covering their heads. The ACLU defended them on religious expression grounds. There was no explanation from as to why Rastafarians are allowed religious expression in schools while others are not.

December 1
New York, NY
 — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a pamphlet, “The December Dilemma: Guidelines for Public Schools During the December Holiday” which would virtually eliminate the religious context of Christmas from the public schools. The Catholic League responded with a parody of the ADL material called, “The December Celebration” which outlined what is permissible and legitimate in acknowledging the Christmas season within public schools.

December 13
Fishers, IN
 — Students at New Briton Elementary School were presented with a multicultural understanding of the holiday season that focused on the secular traditions of Christmas —Santa Claus, cookies, elves, stockings, lights, the Grinch, etc.—but made no mention of the religious significance of the season in a memo outlining “Holidays Around the World.” However, on the day set aside for Hanukkah, the religious symbols of the celebration were displayed and explained.


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Written by Bill