Routledge, the distinguished publishing company, recently released a book on the late rock star, Elvis Presley, that drew fire from the Catholic League. The league objected to the cover illustration: it featured Elvis as the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The book, Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend, has nothing to do with the cover design. What particularly upset the league was the decision to flag this illustration on the cover of the “Literary and Cultural Studies” flyer that was mailed to prospective readers.
In a letter of protest to Routledge president Colin Jones, league president William Donohue labeled the ad “offensive” and accused Routledge of taking “liberties with a symbol held sacred by Roman Catholics.” Donohue closed his letter by saying “Editorial scrutiny surely involves judgments regarding portrayals that might offend various segments of the population. It is hoped that Catholics are added to that list of considerations.”
Jones maintained that “Routledge publishes progressive works in many disciplines and is well known for giving voice to authors who champion the tolerance of difference.” He then admitted, “It is an unfortunate truth that this tolerance sometimes ‘forgets’ certain groups in our midst.”
In a statement of candor, Jones added that “The Elvis book jacket can indeed be seen as too liberal a use of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We apologize for any offense this may have caused you, your colleagues, or indeed any of your Catholic fellows.”
The league was pleased with the honesty of Jones’ response.