Crisis Update

The December Crisis reported that LifeLine, a pro-life long distance carrier, had terminated its contract with Catholic Answers for reasons suggesting an anti-Catholic bias. Further communication has clarified the situation: The LifeLine salesperson who was responsible for the inflamatory letter has been terminated. LifeLine continues to serve a variety of Christian organizations, including numerous Catholic ones, who promote pro-life and pro-family values.

The National PTA’s new “Parent’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools” is designed for parents seeking to negotiate their way through the tangles of religious rights and the public school system. The twelve-page pamphlet spells out what students may or may not do in expressing their religious convictions in public school: they can pray alone or in groups, read scripture, discuss their religious convictions, study religion, openly refer to religion in classroom discussions, play sacred music as part of the school’s academic program, and wear religious garb; they cannot pressure other students to believe as they believe, offer prayers at graduation ceremonies, play sacred music as a way of promoting a particular religion, display obscene or defamatory messages, etc. If these distinctions seem confusing, contact your local PTA for further information.

C. DeLores Tucker, president of the National Political Congress of Black Women, and well known for her association with William Bennett in their struggle against the degradation of popular culture, has launched a boycott of one of the Washington, D.C., area’s biggest music retailers. She’s angry that Tower Records is selling Dogg Food, a new album by the rap group Dogg Pound, previously known as backup for the notorious Snoop Doggy Dog. The album, not unlike many rap recordings, depicts black women in an unsavory and often obscene fashion, along with satirizing the Last Supper. Tower has no plans to stop selling the recording.

The Fox Network’s wildly popular X-Files, a stylish and suspenseful television show following two FBI agents as they explore a nightmare world of aliens, government conspiracy, and unexplained phenomena, recently did something unusual for television: it portrayed Catholicism with seriousness and dignity. In a December episode, Scully, one of the two FBI protagonists, confronts her lapsed Catholicism. As the episode concludes, we find Scully in confession with a sympathetic priest. The final words she speaks are spoken to the camera, and concern not the silence of God, but rather the deafness of man. It was both moving and provocative. Congratulations to the show’s creative whiz, Chris Carter, for avoiding the usual calumnies. And on the Fox Network, yet….

As for caricatures, the viewer need only have zapped the remote a few times to reach CBS and Picket Fences. The episode of December 8 narrated the arrival of Pope John Paul II in the imaginary small town of Rome, Wisconsin. During a parade, a man is shot, but the death is ruled a suicide. The pope, however, has witnessed the shooting and testifies in court to that effect. During the trial, the defense attorney tries to establish bias on the part of the pope, thereby discrediting his testimony. The proceedings reveal the victim to he married, divorced, and gay, and the accused his lover. The bias, predictably, is held to be the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality, which are wildly misrepresented. William Donohue of the Catholic League was quick to blast the program’s content for providing a “caricature of church teachings on sexuality that helps promote a negative stereotype of Catholicism, thus feeding the apparently insatiable appetite that some Americans have—many of whom work in Hollywood—for lambasting the Catholic religion.”

A recent Gallup survey of youth asked the question: How important is it for parents to attend a place of worship with their children? 51 percent of the child respondents and 38 percent of teens answered very important, while 33 percent of children and 35 percent of teens answered “somewhat important.”

In the wake of communism, the ravages of which upon the Russian spirit are incalculable, Russia’s moral world remains firmly caught in the culture of death: as Xan Smiley reports in The Economist’s 1996 yearbook, 217 abortions per live birth are performed in Russia, compared with 38 in the U.S. and 22 in England. The murder rate in Russia has also reached epidemic proportions, comparable to American inner-city strife: 22.8 murders per 100,000 people. Male life expectancy has fallen to 57 years….

The U.S. Catholic Conference has begun offering a film review service, which rates movies for both moral and artistic content. Ratings range from “A-1″—suitable for all audiences—to “O” for morally objectionable. The service can be reached at the following toll-free number: 800-311-4CCC.


  • Brian C. Anderson

    Brian C. Anderson is a writer and Senior Editor of City Journal, a quarterly magazine, published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. He served as literary editor of Crisis during most of the 1990s.

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