Central Florida – A professor at the Continuing Education Department of the University of Central Florida used e-mail to send “humorous” statements to her students and others. Among the offensive comments were: “When Jesus broke the bread at the Last Supper he said, ‘Take this all of you and eat it, for this is my body….’ He did not say, ‘Eat me.’” Another comment was: “The Virgin Mary is not referred to as the ‘Mary with the Cherry.’” After a complaint lodged by the league, the professor apologized to her students after meeting with her superiors.
Illinois – An exhibition displayed at the Krannert Art Museum of the University of Illinois showcased a work called “Dans La Zibeline Du Zob.” The art consisted of ten large wall hangings that depicted the interior of three European cathedrals. Hanging from the nails in the center of each drawing were eight red glass vaginas and two red glass holy water fonts with crosses on them. Three had an additional vagina hanging from nails in what appeared to be drawings of side chapels. The female artist said that her work was a statement about the oppression of women in the Catholic Church. The exhibition received funding from the Illinois Arts Council.
Greenwich Village, NY – Catholic School Girls Rule, a play about an all-girls Catholic school in the Midwest, was performed at a public school. Described in its promotional material as “excavating the bonny surface of parochial life,” the one-woman show featured attacks on nuns and saints, with much obscene language.
Platteville, WI – University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus minister Pamela Strakeljahn wrote a piece in the Wisconsin State Journal that raised serious questions about her ability to counsel Catholic students. She blasted the Vatican for its teachings and its alleged callousness, maintaining that if Jesus were here today he would reject the Church’s teachings.
The educational journal, Phi Delta Kappan, featured an article by Alfie Kohn called “How Not to Teach Values: A Critical Look at Character Education.” In his piece, Kohn red-flagged the religious affiliation of Catholic contributors to this subject, contending that “it is entirely relevant that, in the shadows of their writings, there lurks the assumption that only religion can serve as the foundation of good character.”
Box Elder, South Dakota– Students from Douglas High School performed the notoriously anti-Catholic play, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, at the Johnson Fine Arts Center of Northern State University.
February – March
The league objected to the publishing of a vicious anti-Catholic letter in the Christian Home Educators Association’s The Parent Educator.
University Park, PA – A female Penn State student’s contribution to an art exhibition explicitly attacked Catholicism. Entitled “Twenty-Five Years of Virginity,” her creation of a five-by-five matrix of colored panties with a cross stitched on the crotch was displayed at the Zoeller Gallery of the School of Visual Arts. What made it so disturbing was that her work was part of a juried exhibition under the Director of Visual Arts. It was also the second time in recent months that the same student openly attacked Catholicism. Previously, she created a huge blood vagina and placed a statue of the Blessed Virgin in it. The league’s protest was picked up by students, alumni and politicians.
San Diego, CA – Escondido Union High School District altered its school year calendar to exclude Good Friday from the scheduled holiday list. This meant that attendance was mandatory unless a parent submitted a written request for an excused absence.
Harrisburg, PA – Dr. Paul Hurley, president of Harrisburg Area Community College, defended an art exhibit at the college featuring an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary superimposed on a nude female body. Dr. Hurley told the league that the display was representative of the “inclusive environment” that exists on his campus.
March 17 – April 18
Moraga, CA – St. Mary’s College opened an art exhibit by Lee Roy Champagne at the campus Hearst Art Gallery. The show included a rendition of the Virgin Mary as a life-size, tattooed Barbie doll giving birth to an Elvis doll while singing Madonna hits. Visitors were invited to kneel in front of the neon-lighted shrine, activating soundtracks of “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl.”
March 24 – March 28
Danville, CA – Throughout Holy Week, culminating on Good Friday, a teacher at Monte Vista High School used his senior English class to show the notorious Martin Scorcese film, “The Last Temptation of Christ.” One student, who was offended by the “explicit violence, nudity, vulgar language, sex scenes,” and especially by the movie’s “betrayal of Jesus and the Jesus story,” reported that when she expressed her objections to the teacher, his response was “to defend himself, mock me, raise his voice and attempt to belittle me.”
Pittsburgh, PA – Community College of Allegheny instructor Donna Perkins enlisted a theatrical troupe of students and friends to stage an irreverent, avant-garde parody of the Passion to invitation-only audiences throughout downtown Pittsburgh on Holy Thursday.
Queens, NY – Queens College (City University of New York) student publication Quadincluded a “Dear Jesus, Real Advice from the Son of God” column. The answers included remarks like “you’ll need a winter jacket to pay for your lifetime excessive masturbation,” and “You’re lucky I don’t come down there and smack your balls off for my sake.” The editor apologized for publishing the column. However, school president Dr. Allen Lee Sessoms commented, “That’s not deliberate stuff. That was meant as something that was kind of fun…they’ve got to be more sensitive and not shout about something that’s really innocent.”
April 1 – April 11
Queens, NY – La Guardia High School art department authorized the distribution of fliers that depicted an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, eyes looking toward Heaven and outstretched hands raised in prayer. Above the picture, read: “Look at the Size of that Thing.” The picture was part of a contribution from one of the senior class students that included a redrawn picture of the Sacred Heart with a clown’s nose, a Good Year tire for a halo and other Christian symbols mixed in. Alongside was a sketch of a man with “HEBRO” written across his head and “evil Jew” scripted above the figure. An arrow was pointed at him by a man holding a large penis. The man comments “Jesus I gots a present fo’ yo’ preachy ass!!” Other objectionable exhibitions featured the following:
- a poster of a female in a skirt with legs apart and the caption, “Catholic School Girls: do anything for candy! put up just the right amount of fight! Hear their confessions!”
- a picture of the Last Supper substituting PEZ dispensers for the apostles and Jesus Christ.
- an assortment of sketches with lewd remarks and mutations of body parts.
Levittown, NY – Two students at Jonas E. Salk Middle School wore T-shirts which said “American By Birth—Anti-Christ By Choice.”
New Caney, TX – Two students at New Caney High School were prohibited from wearing rosary beads in school, with teachers instructed to send the boys to the principal’s office if they were caught wearing the beads outside their shirts. “The actual wearing of rosary beads around the neck is identified as gang apparel,” said New Caney High School principal Toby York. The Rutherford Institute intervened to provide legal representation for the students, and in October a federal district court ordered the school to permit the boys to wear their rosary beads.
May 7 – May 10
Wheeling, WV – Bethany College, a Disciples of Christ institution located near Wheeling, hosted the play Agnes of God, based on the notoriously anti-Catholic movie by the same name. The completed work, a senior project of a female student in the department of fine arts, was filed in the college library archives.
May 31 – June 1
Santa Cruz, CA – “Sisters of the Visitation,” a comic opera containing anti-clerical humor, was to be performed at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as the culmination of a month-long celebration of the school’s inauguration of a new chancellor. First written at the time of the French Revolution, the opera involved a reckless young man and his servant, both of whom sneak into a convent dressed as a priest and a nun in order to stop a young woman from receiving her final vows. The “priest” and the “nun” are involved in secret trysts. It was billed as a show which would poke “gentle fun at the formality of religious orders,” while providing “revelations about secret goings-on within the convent.”
The league simply asked incoming chancellor Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood to reschedule the opera for a less prominent time during the academic year. When Dr. Greenwood rejected that request, contending that “any anti-clerical humor would clearly be seen in its dated context,” the league took its case to the press. Noting that many groups—women of color, Jews, gays, Native Americans, Indonesians, Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans and Filipinos—were to be the subject of reverential tributes during the inaugural ceremonies, league president William Donohue wondered why the college didn’t also “schedule a few outdated stabs” at these groups.
Once the league’s statement prompted the local media to become involved, the play was amended to remove the most offensive parts. The league was pleased, but still insisted that the production never should have been launched. This episode provided a textbook example of the double standard which commands nothing but reverential treatment for many racial, ethnic and religious groups, while Catholics are fair game for scorn and ridicule.
June – July
Kids Discover, an educational magazine for children, in its issue on “Kings and Queens” described the Inquisition as “a 13th century campaign” in which “Catholics slaughtered Muslims, Jews and Protestants. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain led the bloodbath in the 15th century,” the article continues, concluding that “The Inquisition lasted into the early 19th century.”
Medford, MA – Tufts University had scheduled to have the play “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” performed during Freshman Orientation. Reverend Scotty McClennan, a Unitarian minister, alerted the league to this play, which mocks the Sacrament of Reconciliation and promotes a negative stereotype of nuns and priests. After the league contacted the Dean of Students, the play was rescheduled for September 2, after orientation. The Orientation Committee, which had originally agreed to sponsor the play, voted not to do so, and also published a letter in the student newspaper at the time the play was performed, explaining its objections. Tufts President John DiBiaggio, in a letter to the league, promised to use the controversy “to help our students better understand the issue of bigotry.”
Binghamton, NY – The Binghamton University student newspaper, Pipedream, ran a fictional ad for a “Vatican” malt liquor, showing what was supposed to be the Pope holding a bottle of malt liquor, and declaring, “Jesus Christ! That’s good Goddamn liquor.”
Hillsborough, NJ – The Hillsborough Board of Education instituted a ban on class parties for Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Valentine’s Day, because, board members said, such celebrations excluded children from other cultures. Only after the action drew national attention and an outpouring of strong protests from parents did the board reverse itself—and then, only with the requirement that such parties be followed by lessons about different secular and religious holidays, and that alternative parties be provided for children from other cultural backgrounds. One parent put the obsession with political correctness in its proper perspective: “All we want is a party, a cupcake and a drink, that’s it,” she told a local newspaper.
Stanford, CA – The Stanford University band, prior to a game against Notre Dame and during half-time of the game, parodied the Irish famine, labeled the Irish “stinking drunks,” and staged a mock confrontation between a Catholic cardinal and the devil. Following a strong protest from the league, Stanford president Gerhard Casper wrote back extending his own apology, and reporting that the band had apologized publicly. He said that the Athletic Department, which also apologized, was revamping its procedure for reviewing band scripts, and has barred the band from field shows for the next three Stanford-Notre Dame games.
Mahopac, NY – In an early start to the annual Keep Christ Out of Christmas campaign of the politically correct, Boy Scouts in the Mahopac school district were told that they could not sell holiday wreaths at their annual fund-raiser—even though the wreath is not a religious symbol, and even though Christmas tree ornaments were sold at the school’s own official fundraising drive. That was permissible, you see, because Hanukkah gifts were also sold at the school fund-raiser, but not at the Boy Scouts event.
Cherryvale, KS – “Beware the Sister Clarisa Effect” was the theme of an article handed out to teachers at the Cherryvale public elementary school. Seeking to caution teachers against using punishment as “a substitute for discipline,” the article, fromPrincipal magazine, resorted to the tired and bigoted stereotype of the brutal Catholic nun, “with her long black habit and beads rustling” as she descended on students “like a black blizzard.” After a complaint from a Catholic substitute teacher, the principal apologized to her and to other Catholic teachers in the school for distributing the offensive article.
Roanoke, VA – Students at Hollins College tossed a picture of Pope John Paul II into a bonfire at a school rally, apparently identifying the Holy Father as one of the “symbols of oppression” they were encouraged to burn. “Had the students any guts,” league president William Donohue wrote to the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which reported the event, “they would have thrown in a picture of those professors and administrators who orchestrated this circus, abused their academic rights, manipulated the student body and made a public display of their fascism.”
College Station, TX – A Texas A&M student leader, during the school’s annual Bonfire rally, told an extremely offensive joke about Catholic nuns involved in perverted sexual activity.
November – December
Haverford, PA – Haverford College’s student web page featured “Sister, Sister. Nun Central: Your Online Source for Nun Fun,” a seemingly endless array of highly offensive material about Catholic nuns. Among the contents:
- “Ask Sister Rossetta: Advice Straight from the Bible,” which, as could be expected, is actually advice straight from an anti-Catholic bigot, who uses it to mock Church teaching on birth control and sexuality.
- “Priest and nun jokes”
- “A naughty collection of nun jokes”
- “Nuns: Wanton Objects of Desire,” a purported survey of male sexual attraction to nuns.
- “The Nun Game,” in which participants are awarded points for such encounters as seeing a nun “on (a) broom”; witnessing a nun “drunk,” “kissing a priest,” or “committing a felony”; “being the victim of a Nun attack,” or “seeing an attack of a band of wild Nuns” or “a Nun hungrily attacking a wild animal and devouring it raw.”
Albuquerque, NM – Despite agreeing to numerous changes to water down its Christmas theme, a public school choir director found himself suspended with pay when his holiday concert was deemed insufficiently ecumenical. Choir director Frank Rotolo had agreed to remove certain Christmas carols from the program: “O, Holy Night,” “Hush, Hear the Angels Sing,” and, ironically, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”—and to change the event’s name from “A Christmas Concert” to “A Winter Concert.” That was not enough for the principal of Highland High School, who suspended him. Mr. Rotolo, represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, was reportedly considering a lawsuit against the school.