Brooklyn, NY — The Morning Star Christian Books and Gift Store in Brooklyn featured publications by the notoriously anti-Catholic publisher Jack Chick. The store had a large display right near the front door that featured booklets such as Are Roman Catholics Christians, Double Cross and The Godfathers. Each was a direct attack on the Catholic Church and the pope.
Atlanta, GA — A series of tattoo parlors in Georgia and California were going by the name Sacred Heart Tattoo, Inc. The company’s website featured an intermingling of sexual images with images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Catholic League wrote to the owner, Tony Olivas, asking him to separate the use of his name from that of the holy Catholic symbol.
San Antonio, TX — The chauffeured transportation service People’s Express featured a logo for its company that looked nearly identical to the Chi-Rho, the Greek letters representing Christ’s name. The Catholic League wrote to company president Robert Ortega showing him a picture of the Chi-Rho along with an explanation of what it means to Catholics and a request to change the logo.
New Orleans, LA — The House of Blues started running a special theme night every Sunday called “Resurrection.” The promotional flyer was full of material patently offensive to Catholics. Each night featured a special performer including Kevin Aviance who sings songs with obscene names while dressed in drag. The Catholic League wrote to the principle owner of the House of Blues chain, actor Dan Ackroyd, asking him to recognize that this theme-night crosses the line from satire to insult.
The June 15th edition of Booklist, published by the American Library Association, carried a review of a book by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy entitled, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God? Reviewer Steven Schroeder admitted that the book was anti-Catholic and that the bigotry displayed by the authors was “distracting” but otherwise wrote a positive review. The Catholic League wrote to Bill Ott, editor and publisher of Booklist, which is relied upon by thousands of librarians in making new acquisitions, to ask if any anti-Jewish, anti-black or anti-gay books had been treated in a similar manner. Ott responded that he criticized Schroeder for his “unfortunate flippancy of tone” and “inappropriate choice” of words.
Flat Rock, NC — A restaurant and wholesale bakery named the Immaculate Consumption operates out of North Carolina. In addition to the name —an obvious take-off of the Immaculate Conception—the logo depicted a caricature of the Virgin Mary.
The catalog company Fandom makes available different collectibles from movies, TV series, etc. The recent catalog featured the “Buddy Christ” character from the movie “Dogma.” The caption read, “Cover your ass this millennium with the new Buddy Christ Dashboard Statue inspired by the one seen in Kevin Smith’s ‘Dogma.'” It sold for $12.95.
The Hamilton Collection offered consumers the Cherished Teddies Miniature Nativity, a nativity scene that substitutes little bears for the people in the traditional nativity scene. The company did not offer a “teddy bear rabbi” for Hanukah or a “teddy bear imam” for Ramadan.
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company offered “The Special Edition Nativity Set.” The set featured Vermont Teddy Bears in place of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The company advertised the set as, “Heirloom-quality teddy bears portraying Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus…Sure to sell out by Christmas!”
Grand Rapids, MI — A Grand Rapids bookstore singled out Catholicism for a special display. Schuler Books and Music had a prominent display of “Catholic School” collectibles. It consisted of items making fun of priests and nuns including: Catholic School salt and pepper shakers, “Sister Sprong”— a mean looking nun on a spring— and other items.
New York, NY — The Exit Nightclub in Manhattan sent out a flyer promoting a special night at the club. The flyer read, “FREE ADMISSION ‘TILL MIDNIGHT TO ALL LADIES WEARING A CATHOLIC SCHOOL UNIFORM.” Accompanying the free admission offer was a woman coyly dressed in a Catholic school uniform with her blouse unbuttoned and a man dreaming about her.
A new fashion group called “Imitation of Christ” is buying old clothes from the Salvation Army and then “crucifying” them by staining and cutting them up. The clothes are then sold as trendy fashion. William Donohue told the New York Daily News that it is “a cheap way to make a fast buck off rather stupid people.”
Blue Q Corporation advertised in their catalogue a “Mix’ n Match” refrigerator magnet set depicting a figure of Mary in a prayer-like pose with a magnet of Jesus in a stroller and a Catholic school girl uniform. In a box below the magnet’s description it reads, “If you are not completely satisfied with the tone of this product please accept our humble apologies.” William Donohue wrote to ask if they would sell a Reverend Jesse Jackson Mix’ n Match with a Baby Sambo in a stroller and a Nazi schoolboy uniform. He wrote, “if you think that the above might be offensive, then why do you continue offending Catholics and their beliefs with your magnet set?”
In its Inside Borders catalogue for October, Borders — the nation’s largest book chain — had an ad for John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope. The ad described Pope Pius XII as “arguably the most dangerous churchman in modern history.” William Donohue wrote to Robert Di Romualdo, Borders chairman, to complain about a patently biased advertising blurb. Borders responded that it had no plans to post the ad again.
Milwaukee, WI — Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops of Milwaukee, WI., in advertising Cornwell’s book, referred to Pope Pius XII as “the most dangerous churchman in history.” William Donohue wrote to David Schwartz, chairman of the Schwartz bookshops, asking that such slanderous advertising be withdrawn. Mr. Schwartz responded that he was “appalled to see” the advertisement “which brought a strenuous rebuke from me to my advertising staff.”
Insight Media offers a catalogue of videos and CD-ROMS for high school and college students. Under its religion sections, it offers fair and sensitive selections on everything from Animism to Voodoo. Under Roman Catholicism, there are two listings: one on the Inquisition, the other on the Church’s “origins and growth into a political force in world events.” Both are negative portrayals of Catholicism. Catholic League members protested and the head of the company announced that his staff would more carefully screen new videos on Catholicism.
Rockaway, NJ — The Party City chain stores were selling priest and nun costumes for Halloween. There were no signs of any rabbi or imam costumes available.
The clothing line Dolce & Gabbana ran an ad in national magazines promoting their latest fashions. The models in the ad were surrounded by religious imagery including statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
Berkeley, CA — Bear Basics, a store in Berkeley, offered T-shirts for sale that said “F— Christmas,” though the shirt spelled out the actual obscenity. When the Catholic League inquired, it was informed that there were no similar T-shirts in regard to Hanukkah.
The forced secularization of Christmas was evident in numerous commercial businesses and internet shopping guides. While Hanukkah remained properly represented in its religious context, Christmas was consistently reduced to its secular symbols, if not eliminated completely.
At 1-800-FLOWERS.com there were no religious items for Christmas, but a Star of David charm necklace for Hanukkah was featured; the Christmas selection for FTD.com had all secular items but sold Star Shaped Hanukkah cookies; Hallmark’s “Holiday Gifts” selection had no religious items for Christmas, but sold a Silver Menorah Candleholder; Bloomingdale’s had a “Chanukah” Gift Card set but no Christmas Gift Card set; Studiodaedre.com sold a “Chanukah Menorah” but no religious items for Christmas; Altavista.com explained the secular meaning of Christmas but offered a religious interpretation of Hanukkah; Yahoo.com listed six religions under “Religious Holidays,” but only one of them is presented with an “Opposing Views” category— Christianity.