Catholics Want Apology for Anti-Christian Cartoons

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

Editor's note: The following article contains quoted material and hyperlinks to graphic images that some readers may find offensive. The cartoons referenced in this article have been removed at the request of The Cavalier Daily, and replaced with hyperlinks to the original cartoons as published on their website.

( - A Catholic organization is asking the University of Virginia's student newspaper to apologize for several cartoons it recently printed that make fun of Christian beliefs.

The Catholic League contacted editors of The Cavalier Daily about two cartoons published in August. One of the cartoons, printed Aug. 23, depicts Jesus crucified on a graph with the caption "Christ on a Cartesian Coordinate Plane."

The other, printed Aug. 24, shows Joseph asking Mary, "How did you get that bumpy rash?" Mary replies, "I swear, it was Immaculately Transmitted."

Another cartoon printed Aug. 24 depicts Jesus driving a woman in a car that presumably crashes. As they wait in line at Heaven's pearly gates, the woman curses at Jesus, who responds, "B****, I ain't never drove!"

In November 2005, the Cavalier Daily was criticized by homosexual activists for printing a cartoon in which a character says the crane is "the gayest-looking of all birds." The paper printed an apology the next day, saying it "regrets printing the comic and deeply apologizes to those who were offended."

In a news release Tuesday, Catholic League President Bill Donahue criticized the paper's unwillingness to apologize to Christians. "[I]t can be implied that the Mother of Jesus has a sexually transmitted disease - and that's okay with the editors - but making flip comments about homosexuals is unacceptable."

According to Donahue, the Cavalier Daily's editor-in-chief, Michael Slaven, declined to issue an apology for the offensive cartoons.

"Under our newspaper's policies, satire of religion, or any other belief or creed, is acceptable," Slaven wrote to Donahue, according to the release.

Donahue said it's "nice to know that the newspaper actually has a policy that justifies anti-religious commentary (of Christians, of course), but deliberately fails to apply the same libertarian policy to gays."

The policy, which was adopted in April 2006, more than four months after the first controversy, permits cartoonists to make fun of a group of people based on "their own opinions or action" but not for "traits or situations they cannot change."

In an e-mail to Cybercast News Service, Slaven said the editors feel they "cannot censor something for the sole reason that it is controversial." He added that "sometimes unpopular ideas turn out to be right."

Slaven said he felt that publishing the cartoon was standing up for freedom of speech, because "it would be hypocritical in most cases to censor something just because someone would be offended by it."

The decision to apologize for the November 2005 cartoon, Slaven explained, was "made by a completely different group of previous editors," adding that he was "not aware of their exact rationale for deciding to apologize."

"As a student organization, we have very quick turnaround, so oftentimes, things that we printed only nine months ago were in a whole different era," Slaven wrote. "I can say confidently that there has been no double standard since the current policies were articulated."

Slaven added that comics represent the opinion of the artist and not the opinion of the Cavalier Daily. He encouraged people to contact the artists if they are offended.

Kiera McCaffrey, a spokeswoman for the Catholic League, told Cybercast News Service that the group has not and will not complain to the artists because "if we were to chase down everybody like that there never be a moment to breathe. We're interested in the people who are publishing these cartoons."

McCaffrey said that Catholic League's main complaint was the "hypocrisy with the apology toward gays and not one towards ... Christians in general and that is not something that the individual cartoonists bear any responsibility for."

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