Disapproval of religion
Michael deHaven Newsom
mnewsom at LAW.HOWARD.EDU
Mon Jan 7 11:47:36 PST 2002
I would want to know about the context or setting in which this
particularly ugly dispute is playing itself out.
Wouldn't it make a difference if this were merely one in a series of
anti-Catholic diatribes? Wouldn't it make a difference if other
displays mocked other religions?
One other point, I can't understand the idea tht if somehow the
government funding were "religion-neutral" that there might not be a
problem. First, as everybody knows, I don't know what "neutrality" is.
Second, even if I did, don't we have to take into account the ambit or
range of the discretion of the museum with regard to questions of
religion? Could not the government be charged with foreknowledge and
perhaps, therefore, the consequences, of the exercise of discretion by
I'm on record maintaining that America was and still is a Protestant
Empire. My hunch is that cases like this merely make my point. But I
still want to know more facts about the context or setting of this
"Volokh, Eugene" wrote:
> Any thoughts on the following? In my view, the fact that the
> museum is partly tax-funded shouldn't be a problem, so long as the
> government funding program is itself religion-neutral; but I wonder
> what others might think:
> Los Angeles Times
> January 5 2002
> Catholics Slam Napa Art Exhibit
> Museum: A group says figures of the pope and nuns defecating are
> Copia food center defends the works.
> By JOHN M. GLIONNA . . .
> SAN FRANCISCO -- A national Roman Catholic group is protesting an
> exhibit at
> Copia, the Napa Valley's heralded new food, wine and arts museum, that
> includes figurines of the pope and several nuns defecating.
> Activists say the work by Spanish artist Antoni Miralda has no place
> in a
> museum funded in part by tax dollars, including money from Catholics.
> exhibit, titled "Active Ingredients," also displays miniature figures
> Santa Claus and Fidel Castro in similar poses.
> "Catholics in the state of California are paying to have their
> depicted in a way that's offensive," said Patrick Scully, a spokesman
> for the
> Catholic League of Religious and Civil Rights. "This exhibit is
> It's gratuitous. It's unnecessary." Scully said that scores of the New
> York-based group's 350,000 members nationwide who had seen or read
> about the
> exhibit had called to complain. This week, leaders sent a letter to
> officials, who responded with an e-mail defending the depictions
> "These figurines symbolize the cycle of eating and fertilization of
> earth, which is a requisite for future existence," wrote Copia
> Director Peggy Loar, according to a news release circulated Friday by
> Catholic group.
> To which Catholic League President William Donohue sarcastically
> responded in
> the release: "Now I get it: To show his appreciation of Mother Earth,
> had to show the pope and nuns defecating. But why couldn't he have
> chosen the
> Lone Ranger and Tonto instead? Or better yet, just Tonto and a few of
> Indian buddies."
> In an interview Friday, Loar said the activists were spreading
> inaccuracies. . . .
> The 35 figurines, each about the size of a chess piece, are rooted in
> Catholicism. "They're called caganers and they're part of a Catholic
> Catalonian tradition that dates back to the 1800s," Loar said.
> included in nativity scenes to ensure good luck for farmers in the
> year. We've done our homework on this."
> A museum spokeswoman said the Catalonian figurines were traditionally
> peasants, not Popeye, Santa Claus or the pope, as included in the
> Loar blasted the group for claiming that the museum received $75
> million in
> public funding, saying the Copia had only recently received a $50,000
> government grant.
> "And I think the group's mention of Tonto and his buddies in their
> release is
> insulting to American Indians. This from a group that touts religious
> civil rights." . . .
> Scully said the comments showed the "ludicrousness" of the artist's
> "The fact is you won't see any museum showing an American Indian
> because those images are important to people and they're sensitive,"
> he said.
> "But when it comes to Catholic imagery, it's open season for the arts
> community. And that's not right." . . .
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