Sweet Jesus?

April 01, 2007

Every time I see Catholic League leader Bill Donohue on TV, I immediately cringe. He is perhaps one of the worst representatives of Christians with his hateful and over-the-top rhetoric. He was at it again the other day as he talked on CNN about the chocolate sculpture of Jesus. A clip is linked below, but first let me offer some background and discussion.

In a New York art gallery, an artist put up a six-foot tall sculpture of Jesus made of chocolate. Donohue denounced the sculpture as "hate speech" and started a boycott of the gallery. The Catholic League's original press release denouncing the sculpture actually included a link to where people could see a photo of the sculpture. Huh? Donohue was upset about it and did not want it to be on display so he pointed out where people could see it. Ironically, more people likely saw the sculpture because of Donohue's protests than would have seen it if he had just kept his mouth shut! Even Anderson Cooper notes in the CNN video that this issue got a lot more attention because of Donohue.

That press release also claimed that the sculpture was another attempt by "non-believers to sow seeds of doubt about Jesus." However, as the artist points out in the video clip, he considers himself to be a devout Catholic, though Donohue refuses to believe it. Donohue states, "You're a Christian? Please. Don't lie about it. All right?" After the artist responded with "I'm not lying about it," Donohue yelled back, "Yeah you are." Apparently, Donohue does not see himself as just the head of an activist organization but actually as God--because how else could he sit in judgment of someone he does not even know?

Donohue even suggests that the artist might deserve death. He explained, "All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don't react the way extremist Muslims do when they're offended--otherwise they may have more than their heads cut off." So, now who is guilty of "hate speech"? He is even meaner in the CNN exchange, during which he calls the artist a "loser" and again suggests he should have his head--and more--cut off. Donohue even brings the artist's mother into the debate. Nothing demonstrates Christ's love quite like yelling at people and calling them names! The artist rightly called Donohue a "bully" after Donohue wanted to know the names of a couple of priests who wanted the sculpture to be displayed in their churches (they will definitely be attacked if Donohue discovers their names).

An interesting side note here: Donohue is also quite upset that Jesus is naked in the sculpture, even though that is historically accurate. But the facts do not seem to matter much to Donohue.

If you want to see part of the CNN exchange, click here (I couldn't find the whole piece I saw). You can read a transcript of the whole program here (scroll down the page about halfway). Even if one finds the sculpture to be inappropriate and hateful, Donohue's response is itself inappropriate and hateful. He is not representing Christians or Christ very well. It is sad that CNN and others frequently put him on their shows.

I hope Christians will take two things from this. First, let us be more careful with what we say so that we do not drive people away like Donohue does. Second, let us work to put forth better representatives and withdraw support from Donohue and others who give us a bad name. After this exchange I realized that although I critiqued Donohue in my book, For God's Sake, Shut Up!: Lessons for Christians on How to Speak Effectively and When to Remain Silent, I should have done it more.