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Glorious Appearing by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins was published. It is the twelfth and final installment of the “Left Behind” series of evangelical Christian thrillers begun in 1995. The United States Bishops’ Department of Education called them “both subtly and overtly anti-Catholic” for their depiction of a future pope who establishes a false religion linked with the Anti-Christ.
The Church that Forgot Christ by Jimmy Breslin was published by Free Press. He wrote of the issue of abortion: “The church of Rome today cries ‘abortion!’ to distract us from crimes by all their pedophiles and pimps.” Breslin rails against celibacy, the bishops, and the pope. Many statements that he attributes to people in the book are patently untrue. Unlike other books critical of the Church, this one smacks of a profound hatred of the religion Breslin has long since abandoned.
HowardStern.com parodied a poster for “The Passion of the Christ.” Called “The Passion of the Stern: A Radio Pioneer Persecuted By the U.S. Government,” Howard Stern’s face is superimposed over that of James Caviezel as Jesus.
Chuck Currie’s blog, “Views on faith and politics from a United Church of Christ Seminarian,” included a piece critical of the Vatican’s recent “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and the World.” The article was titled, “When Catholic Girls Go Wild.” He wrote that “it is difficult to imagine how a male-only priesthood riddled with a discriminatory record on women’s issues perceives that is [sic] has the moral authority” to issue such a document.
A radical website called “Church Arson” described its goal of “burning down the last temple and shattering the last church.” It stated that people must “defeat the religions and theories of Christianity and Judaism.” After this is accomplished, it claimed, “the executions of diehard Christians and Jews should bother no one.”
Marketed on a website, artist Scott Richter created an image called “Saint Clinton.” It showed President Bill Clinton’s face on the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The image was sold on T-shirts, posters, refrigerator magnets, coffee cups and lunch boxes.
Café Press, a website that offers a platform for members to sell their own products, offered under the category “Religion” a subcategory called “Satanism.” Included for sale was a T-shirt that said “I [heart] Satan” and a ceramic mug that said “F— for Jesus.” “Holiday Gifts” included a “What Would Jesus Do?” thong and there was a sticker called “Figless is F—ed” that showed Jesus with the words “You are an insecure cult leader!”; Bumper stickers that said “Jesus is my nigga” and “Piss off an Evangelical…Think for yourself!” were also sold.
In Slate magazine on MSN.com, Christopher Hitchens wrote about the recent presidential election. While criticizing Garry Wills for his claim that the Enlightenment was brought to an end by the election, Hitchens wrote: “I step lightly over the ancient history of Wills’ church (which was the originator of the counter-Enlightenment and then the patron of fascism in Europe) as well as over its more recent and local history (as the patron, protector, and financier of child-rape in the United States, and the sponsor of the cruel annulment of Joe Kennedy’s and John Kerry’s first marriages). As far as I know, all religions and all churches are equally demented in their belief in divine intervention, divine intercession, or even the existence of the divine in the first place.”
E. Michael Jones, editor of Culture Wars, reviewed Roy Schoeman’s book,Salvation Is From the Jews. What started as a review ended up as an anti-Semitic rant playing fast and loose with Catholic theology.
There was nothing in Roy Schoeman’s book that would lead one to Jones’s conclusions. For example, Jones wrote: “The overwhelming majority of Jews didn’t just ignore Christ, they actively sought his death.” He also called Jews who do not accept Christ the “synagogue of Satan.”
Jones claimed that throughout much of Christian history, “What happened was precisely the Jewish participation in iniquity which their pertinacious and ongoing rejection of Christ made a necessity.” He added that “the logic is inescapable.” He blamed the Jews themselves for the Holocaust and pogroms: “Messianic politics has been a recipe for disaster…and the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews was a reaction to Jewish Messianism (in the form of Bolshevism) every bit as much as the Chmielnicki pogroms flowed from the excesses of the Jewish tax farmers in the Ukraine.”
The Catholic League condemned Jones’s anti-Semitism and repudiated his efforts to justify it in the name of Catholic theology.
New York, NY—The Jewish magazine Heeb published a 10-page photo feature in its Winter 2004 edition mocking Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” called “Back Off, Braveheart.” The editors who introduced the spread said that the death of Jesus was “summarily blamed upon the Jews,” until this “fondly held belief seemed destined to fade forever” after Vatican II. A sexually suggestive Jesus wears a Jewish prayer shawl as a loin cloth, and the Blessed Mother was shown exposing her breasts and body piercing. The occupation of the model photographed as Mary Magdalene was described as “Evangelist-cum-nymphomaniac country singer.” She was quoted as saying, “Who killed Jesus? Ryan Adams.” The woman who was photographed as Pontius Pilate was quoted as saying, “Christians believe the Jews killed Jesus; that is why there is so much anti-Semitism in the world. The church was created on that one simple anti-Semitic principle. Christians who say otherwise are making it up or misrepresenting their own religion.”
New York, NY—Time Out New York’s Gay and Lesbian listings section included a picture of an actor playing Jesus on the Cross for the listing of “Magnum: A Passion for Christ” at the 13 Little Devils club. The April 11th event was described as “A live crucifixion! Well-endowed go-go boys! Untold debauchery! It’s just another Easter Sunday with Dean Johnson and Daniel Nardicio.”
“Eurotrip,” distributed by DreamWorks, opened in theaters. It follows a group of American high school graduates on a trip through Europe. They end up at the Vatican, where they invade the pope’s private quarters, set fire to one of the rooms, mock the Sacrament of Penance and accidentally pull a bell that signals the death of the pope.
The MGM movie “Saved!” opened. It was billed as a “sweetly subversive comedy” about an evangelical Christian high school. The film features a Christian teenager who gets pregnant while attempting to reorient her homosexual friend; this follows a vision she has of Jesus, who appeals to her to “do everything you can to help him.” The girl’s mother has an affair with Pastor Skip, the school’s principal, and many experience a crisis of faith.
All the Christians are presented as good-natured but hopelessly narrow-minded persons who can’t negotiate life. On the other hand, the non-Christians are portrayed as tolerant and wise. The lone Jew remarks of Jesus on the Cross, “Now that is what I call hung on a cross!” She also comments that instead of seeking to be “born again,” she has decided “not to serve Jesus after all, but to serve Satan.”
New York, NY—The Human Rights International Film Festival at Lincoln Center showed a documentary film, “Saints and Sinners.” The film, co-presented by Dignity/USA, was by Abigail Honor and Yan Vizinberg. It was described as following “the challenging and emotional journey of a devoutly Catholic gay couple determined to marry in a Catholic church. Caring more about formalizing their seven-year union within the Catholic tradition than with legal recognition by the state, Edward DeBonis and Vincent Maniscalco pursue their dream, despite the expected rejection from the local church hierarchy.”
“A Dirty Shame” by director John Waters opened in theaters. The film features self-proclaimed Catholics from Baltimore who go on an uninhibited sex-spree. There is Ray-Ray, a so-called “sex saint” who affirms that “sex addicts are the Chosen Ones.” Ray-Ray is portrayed as a “Christ-like figure” who inspires his fetishistic followers by promising a “Resursexion.” One of his minions is Sylvia, Ray-Ray’s twelfth disciple; she plans on discovering “a whole new way to orgasm.” As Ray-Ray’s popularity grows, so do his “sexual miracles.” John Waters has a history of mocking Catholics. About the fact that the movie was rated “morally offensive” by the bishops’ conference movie reviews, Waters said, “It doesn’t have quite the ring of ‘Condemned’ which is what the Church used to call movies like this.”
“Team America: World Police” opened. The work of “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it features a song about AIDS that lampoons the musical “Rent.” One of the lyrics is, “Everyone has AIDS/The pope has got it, and so do you/Come on everybody, we got a lot of quilting to do.”
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s film “Bad Education” opened, depicting a predatory homosexual priest who is principal of a Catholic boarding school in 1964. Classifying it as expressly anti-Catholic may not be appropriate, since almost every character in the film—transvestites, drug addicts, thieves, blackmailers, and murderers—is equally depraved.
Austin, TX—A band called “Show Me on the Doll” performed at Room 710. One band member dressed as a “demonic priest” while the lead singer, Bob Furtado, dressed in a nun’s habit made up of “garters, panties and shoes and nothing else.” The band was described as having the theme of “molestation and its effect on the development of homosexuality in youth.”
Deborah Harry, the lead singer in the band Blondie, released a new album, “The Curse of Blondie.” The song “Shakedown” contained the lyrics, “Whatcha got hidin’ in your body cavity?” and “I think I’d have a better chance to see the pope/I get so bored with this shtick and his mini-minute d—/And all his high and mighty s—/I’m a witch.”
Long Island, NY—Ed Lowe, columnist for Newsday, wrote an article about the scandal in the Church. Without offering any evidence, he simply proceeded to rant against the Church. For example, he said the federal Racketeer Influences and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act should be used against the Church, specifically the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and its bishop should be in jail. The Church, he said, “is rife with criminal conspirators who successfully have made deliberate, criminal efforts to thwart the proper application of law, for the purpose of cutting the organization’s financial losses.”
Dayton, OH—The Dayton Daily News published a cartoon by Mike Peters that depicted a bishop who denies Communion to a pro-abortion Catholic politician, but simply moves a pedophile priest to another parish. William Donohue wrote a letter to the newspaper that was printed on April 27: “Now if this were a common occurrence, Peters might have a point. But considering the fact that a whopping two-thirds of one percent of the 46,000 priests in the U.S. have had accusations made about them—not all of which are true—the real disgrace belongs to Peters for portraying the clergy in such an offensive manner. And by the way, whether a bishop denies Communion to a pro-abortion Catholic is nobody’s business. Ever hear of house rules?”
Lexington, KY—At the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’ annual convention, Pat Oliphant boasted of his recent work attacking the Catholic Church during the sex abuse scandal and attacking Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” A cartoon on the latter had been published on March 1 by the Boston Globe; the paper subsequently apologized for publishing it after receiving strong criticism from local Catholics. Oliphant stated he enjoyed provoking such reactions.
Long Island, NY—Newsday ran an article about critics of Monsignor John Alesandro, pastor of St. Dominic’s in Oyster Bay. Some parishioners had lost confidence in his ability to lead the parish, while others have rallied to his side. The Catholic League did not object to this reporting, but it did find fault with a poll on Newsday’s website asking the public whether Msgr. Alesandro should be removed as pastor. In response, the league asked the public to go to its website and cast a vote on the question, “Is Newsdayanti-Catholic?” Our poll, like Newsday‘s, was open to everyone. We figured that sinceNewsday had broken ranks with virtually every newspaper in the United States by inviting non-Catholics to stick their noses into the internal affairs of the Catholic Church, it was only proper to ask people from Maine to California what they thought ofNewsday‘s foray into journalistic voyeurism.
We let our poll stay up for a few days. The final results to the question, “IsNewsday anti-Catholic?” were as follows: 95 percent said “yes”; 4 percent said “no”; and 1 percent were unsure. There were 1158 votes cast.
Akron, OH—Letter writer Joya Matheus was published in the Akron Beacon Journal. Without a shred of evidence, she claimed that “10,667″ cases of “rape, sodomy and sexual torture of American children” were committed by Catholic priests. She concluded that “It is time that Congress hold the Catholic Church accountable for this lawlessness, if not by shutting it down then by revoking its tax-exempt status.” That such a bigoted letter would be published by a mainstream newspaper was truly astounding.
St. Augustine, FL—The St. Augustine Record published a cartoon by Mike Ritter depicting a bishop labeled “Vatican” holding the Eucharist over a Catholic politician while telling him to “roll over.” After a letter from the Catholic League, the editor Jim Baltzelle published an apology on June 6: “I am sorry that a recent syndicated cartoon regarding the Catholic Church offended so many local people, who felt the cartoon could have made its point less directly. I agree.”
Philadelphia, PA—The May 19-25 edition of the alternative newspaper Philadelphia Weekly depicted Howard Stern crucified on a cross with the letters “FCC” replacing “INRI” above his head. The title was “Crucified by Bush’s FCC.”
San Bernardino, CA—The San Bernardino Sun published the notoriously anti-Catholic “Earth’s Final Warning” advertisement from the International Seventh-Day Adventist Fellowship of Mineral Bluff, GA. The ad, among other things, depicted the Catholic Church as the “Whore of Babylon” and talked of a plan between the United States government and the pope to achieve world domination.
During the month of June there were numerous media reports alleging that actress Jennifer Lopez had secretly married singer Marc Anthony. Lopez, twice divorced, was supposedly pregnant and, according to many news stories, would never have a child out of wedlock because she’s such a “strict Catholic.” Never before had Lopez been labeled as such.
New York, NY—The lead editorial in the Forward, a prominent Jewish weekly newspaper, accused Catholic bishops of being a threat to democracy:
“The threat by Catholic bishops to withhold communion from politicians who uphold abortion rights is an affront not just to democracy, but also to the best moral teachings of Catholicism…Where democracy is affronted is at the point where a church—the nation’s largest single church, as it happens—attempts to impose its views from above by threatening to withhold what its believers consider an essential religious rite. That’s nothing more than bullying, trying to bludgeon believers into substituting obedience for conscience. It’s unfair to believers and unfair to the system.” The editorial ended by saying the bishops failed to abide by their own creed because they “dishonored [the] doctrine of life” by not condemning “free-market fundamentalists” and the like.
Syndicated columnist Liz Smith wrote that the affair between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky reminded her of the affair between John F. Kennedy and Judith Exner. Smith identified Exner as “the Catholic Judith Exner.” William Donohue responded in a press release: “We’re disappointed that the lesbian Liz Smith didn’t identify the Jew Monica Lewinsky the way she did the Catholic Judith Exner.” On July 2, Liz Smith wrote, “The other day I referred to Judith Exner…as a Catholic….I was trying to describe her as she often described herself to me. No slur against Catholicism was intended.”
In the days preceding the presidential election the following comments were taken from several news sources. All of them suggest that Christians are a threat to democracy.
* Robert Wright, visiting professor at Princeton, said Bush’s “divine-feeling feelings” are part of today’s “problem, not the solution.”
* A New York Times editorial said if Bush wins again, he will appoint judges that will allow states to become “mini-theocracies.”
* David Domke, a University of Washington professor, said “one is hard pressed” to distinguish between Osama bin Laden’s religious views and Bush’s.
* NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller said Bush wants a “theocracy.”
* USC professor Neal Gabler said Bush’s ideas are “the stuff of a theocracy—the president as pope or mullah.”
* Yale emeritus professor Harold Bloom feared if Bush was reelected, the United States could be faced with a “theocracy, an eventual tyranny of the twice-born.”
* Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect said Bush “seems to want to move the United States towards a theocracy.”
* Journalist James Ridgeway said, “Bush’s goal is to blur the lines separating church and state and turn the U.S. toward theocracy.”
* Brian Rusche, director of the Minnesota Joint Religious Coalition, said, “We don’t want a theocracy.”
* S. Michele Fry of the Contra Costa Times and Linda Valdez of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer both admonished readers to keep their guard up, remembering that “America is not a theocracy.”
New York, NY—Maureen Dowd, columnist for the New York Times, wrote, “America has always had strains of isolationism, nativism, chauvinism, puritanism and religious fanaticism.” But after the presidential election, she maintained, “We’re entering a dark age, more creationist than cutting edge, more premodern than postmodern.” All because Christians won on many moral issues. In the same issue, Paul Krugman blamed Christians for wanting to “break down the barriers between church and state.”
Los Angeles, CA—Civil rights attorney Mickey Wheatley wrote in theLos Angeles Timesthat the United States has become “a fundamentalist-leaning nation, increasingly hateful and hated.”
The following are comments taken from several newspaper sources in the days after the presidential election. They also smack of anti-Christian animus.
*In the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom wondered if President Bush understands that “he was not chosen god, bishop, rabbi or high priest?”
*The publisher of Harper‘s magazine, John R. MacArthur, blasted both President Bush and Senator Kerry for advertising “their subservience to Jesus Christ and the Christian god, without the least concern about whether it might offend me” and others like him.
*Ex-seminarian Garry Wills wrote in the New York Times, “Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?” He ended by saying that “moral zealots” will scare moderate Republicans with their “jihads.”
*New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said President Bush “ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq.”
*Also in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman accused Bush’s base of wanting “to extend the boundaries of religion” and of promoting “intolerance.”
*Without providing one example, Margaret Carlson wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Catholic bishops “demonized” Kerry’s supporters by warning them “they could go to hell just for voting for him.”
*Sheryl McCarthy of Newsday accused Bush of “pandering to people’s fears, petty interests and prejudices” against gays and others.
*Sidney Blumenthal, writing in Salon.com, nervously observed that the new Senate majority is “more theocratic than Republican.”
*Also on Salon.com, Sean Wilentz of Princeton University said, “religious fanaticism” had “seized control of the federal government.”
*In the New York Times, Gary Hart proclaimed, “There is a disturbing tendency to insert theocratic principles into the vision of America’s role in the world.”
*DeWayne Wicham of USA Today wrote, “Putting God in the public square runs the risk of turning our democracy into a theocracy.”
*Miami Herald writer Leonard Pitts Jr. warned that social conservatives are “the soldiers of the new American theocracy.”
*Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe said people like her “don’t want their country racked by the fundamentalist religious wars we see across the world.”
*Author Barbara Ehrenreich argued that Americans are polarized because of “Christian fundamentalism.”
*Syndicated columnist Byron Williams wrote that America is moving “closer to a theocracy.”
*Tony Kushner, the anti-Catholic playwright, wrote that America has “a kind of unholy alliance between theocracy and plutocracy.”
*Cynthia Tucker, an editorialist with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, blamed “black churchgoers” for using the Bible “as a bludgeon” against gays, saying “homophobia” now “oozes across lines of color.”
*A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial said the rejection of gay marriage means “the old bigotry against homosexuals has not abated.”
Los Angeles, CA—The Los Angeles Times printed the following letter by Gerald S. Rellick: “So many Christians, so few lions.” The Catholic League wrote to the paper pointing out that it would never consider publishing a letter that said the following similarly hate-filled, bigoted remark: “So many Jews, so few ovens.” This letter was not printed.
New York, NY—In the free weekly the Village Voice, several columnists wrote of the impact of religion on the recent presidential election:
*The day after the election, James Ridgeway confessed, “The dream has become a nightmare.” By that he meant “the dream of a secular, liberal democracy.” Because, he said, “the Christians are stronger than ever.” He criticized “the self-absorbed, selfish Christians who take sanctimonious pride in wrapping themselves in the banners of the civil rights movement, missionary work abroad, giving old clothes to single mothers,” etc. Ridgeway then blamed Christians for not challenging the Klan in the 1980s, noting that it is Jews who fight racism outside the South.
*On the Village Voice‘s website, Sharon Lerner warned of “an army of bloodthirsty archconservatives” who constitute the pro-life movement. So bad are things for the pro-abortionists that she said, “the sky could really fall.” She made it clear that it was the Christians she feared.
*Sydney H. Schanberg wondered aloud if the election meant “we’re having a second Civil War.” Though he doubted this, he nonetheless concluded that “there’s a feel of holy-war fever in America.” He also made it clear that it is the Christians he feared.
*Michael Feingold wrote, “The spoliation of our national forests by Bush-based economic interests, joined with the accelerated melting of the polar cap…will bring on what must surely be an increasing parade of natural disasters, pandemics, outbreaks of disease….” He warned that “as the sun gets more dangerous, the air less breathable, the water less drinkable, the hurricanes more frequent,” even the rich will suffer. He wrote further, “this is the election in which American Christianity destroyed itself. Today the church is no longer a religion but a tacky political lobby….” Indeed, “Christianity as currently preached and practiced in Middle America is virtually Satan, by the standards of anyone who strives to follow the teachings of Jesus.”
New York, NY—In a Thanksgiving piece that took comedic jabs at 50 different targets, almost all of them individuals, New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams saved her final shot for the Catholic Church, thanking the Church for “bringing new meaning to the proverb, ‘Abstinence makes the heart grow fondlers.’”
Wichita, KN—The Wichita Eagle ran the following “correction”: “A story in Monday’s paper referred to a tree that was lighted at Tuesday’s Winterfest celebration as a ‘Christmas tree.’ In an effort to be inclusive, the city is actually referring to this tree as the ‘Community Tree.’”
Charlottesville, VA—Penelope Trunk, a columnist for a Virginia weekly, wrote a piece entitled, “Skipping Christmas: Erase Holiday from the Office.” Trunk asked, “why are we still hanging Christmas wreaths at work?” She contended that “Diversity in the workplace is not ‘diverse religious expression.’” And according to Trunk, “acting as if everyone has the ‘holiday spirit’ squelches the spirit of workplace diversity.” Jews like herself, she wrote, are “forced to take a holiday.”
Trunk added: “Given the nothingness of Christmas to most Jews, it’s absurd how much Christmas cheer Jews endure just to fit in at the office.” Trunk ended with the following advice to those who want to be “kind and generous” to minorities like her in the workplace: “You can start by getting rid of those Christmas wreaths.”
Charleston, WV—The Charleston Gazette ran an editorial opposing City Council member Mark Sadd for possible nomination to federal district court by President Bush, remarking that “Sadd is closely identified with the Catholic Church in West Virginia.”
The Comedy Central network aired an episode of “South Park” titled, “The Passion of the Jew.” Eric Cartman, a young character often portrayed as an anti-Semite, says “The Passion” shows that “Jews are the devil.” Cartman, dressed as Hitler, holds a meeting of the “Mel Gibson Fan Club”; obviously well-intentioned Christians show up and assume that his cryptic Nazi references in fact have some benign religious significance. The entire cartoon was replete with anti-Catholic characterizations.
The New York Daily News published an article by Michael Goodwin that was critical of Air America, the liberal radio venture. Goodwin said that on May 10 various hosts took the opportunity to slam Catholicism. He learned of a flip comment comparing the “pulling out” of American troops from Iraq to the Catholic Church’s teaching on pre-marital sex; this was made on both the “Morning Sedition” and the “Unfiltered” shows. In the same vein, on “Morning Sedition” it was said that “the Catholic Church has secretly been encouraging oral sex for years.” Al Franken imitated a priest giving Communion to a pedophile priest, saying, “Body of Christ,” while denying a pro-abortion politician the Host.
The HBO series “America Undercover” aired a special documentary, “Celibacy.” It purported to be an examination of celibacy as it is practiced in the world’s religions. After a cursory glance at celibacy in eastern religions, it focused almost exclusively on Roman Catholicism. The overall theme was voiced at the outset: “The worldwide crisis in the Catholic Church begs many questions: Is sexual denial healthy? Or can it become something dangerous? Is there any link between enforced celibacy and an apparent epidemic of child abuse by the clergy?”
Ex-priest Richard Sipe asserted that homosexuals and sociopaths are drawn to the celibate priesthood. Stories of sexual abuse were described in graphic detail, in contrast to the happy tales of priests who left and married. A pedophile priest named Robert admitted that castration set him free.
At the end, after distorting the travails of Galileo, the clincher question was delivered: “How long will it take the Church to come to terms with the nature of human sexuality?”
The Bravo Network aired a Halloween special, “The 100 Scariest Movie Moments” hosted by John Landis. In commenting on “The Exorcist,” he said, “It took a completely unbelievable situation and made it seem realistic, that the devil would take over a young girl and the Catholic Church would be the good protecting us from evil—when they weren’t molesting young boys….” (Our emphasis.)
Salt Lake City, UT—Several live intermission breaks on the public television station KUED Channel 7 were hosted by a woman wearing a nun’s religious habit and her sidekick, “Mary.” The two giggling women mocked the pop and the doctrine of purgatory and held a “raffle” for crucifixes affixed with objects resembling switchblades. A Catholic viewer complainted to KUED general manager Larry S. Smith, who promptly apologized and promised that “this type of mistake will not be made again.