Condom Key Chains in U.S. Spark Religious Furor

from Reuters

BOSTON - A Connecticut abortion rights group has angered some conservative Christian groups by selling condom key chains that include an image of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel with God handing Adam a condom.

"It's an example of depraved morals and contempt for the sensibility of Catholics everywhere," said C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.

The $3 key chains sold by Planned Parenthood of Connecticut on its Web site come in 28 designs including an image of a U.S. flag with the stars replaced with the words "Wear with Pride" and a Statue of Liberty holding a condom instead of a torch.

Another reads: "Condoms are cheaper than diapers" over a cartoon of a screaming baby.

Judy Tabar, Planned Parenthood of Connecticut's president and chief executive, said growing controversy over the key chains sparked a surge in Internet traffic to its Web site this week.

She said 100,000 visitors swamped the site on Thursday, causing it to shut down temporarily, after Internet columnist Matt Drudge posted a statement by a conservative Christian group condemning the key chains as "blasphemous."

The key chains had been on sale for a year, but had attracted controversy only this week.

"The media attention led to an avalanche of orders so much so that it caused our Web site to shut down. We have expanded our capacity and it is up again today," she said.

Kristian Mineau, president of the conservative Massachusetts Family Institute, called the Sistine Chapel key chain image "a very crude and crass manoeuvre."

"This does nothing to deal with the horrific promiscuity rate we have among teenagers," he said. "We believe the real approach particularly to the young people that this is targeted at is abstinence before marriage."

Taber said the variety of designs was aimed at appealing to a wide range of personalities. "Condoms are the best protection against unintended pregnancy and infection, so it's really important to get the message out there," she said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's your commentary and analysis? Other than your title, the entire post is just a report of a reuters article. There's no original thought. Surely you can see the Catholic perspective, whether your agree or disagree with it.

The appropriated art was commissioned by Catholics, painted by Catholics, and hangs in one of the most sacred churches of the Catholic Church. Catholic teachings have consistently been anti-condom, regarding planned parenthood/birth control. To use Catholic art to promote an activity in opposition to Catholic teaching is clearly inappropriate - not illegal, not immoral, possibly unethical, clearly inappropriate.

Catholics don't need to get over anything in regards to this seemingly clever, but inappropriate use of Catholic heritage.

Also, being godless is no excuse for boorish behavior.

January 21, 2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

1] There is a limit to the ownership one can claim on art. Once you share the art - which the Church has done with enthusiasm for centuries in this case - ownership merely refers to physics. You may own the plaster or canvas, and you may stick that where ever you please, but the Art (which goes beyond matter) has become everyone's. From the sphinx to Starry Night to Andy Warhol's soup cans, Art is a genie that doesn't return to the bottle once you change your mind. To try to claim ownership on the images of the Sistine Chapel at this point makes Catholics look foolish.

2] Can I understand the Church being upset that someone used images from the Sistine to promote condom use? A little. But this reaction goes far beyond upset and borders on hysterical, in both senses of the word. A few weeks ago, Catholics were calling it "anti-Catholic hate" when a news show planned to air a segment on Pope Joan. They sue over cartoons. They scream and whine over everything. It's a little tiring and, unless you're Catholic, becomes very easy to dismiss after awhile. Catholics need to have more than just one type of reaction - Shrill Venomous Tirade - to things that displease them and reserve terms like "moral depravity" and unbelievable outrage for offenses that truly deserve them. This use of the images was to reduce teen pregnancy. Catholics need to keep that in mind. It wasn't to show God molesting a little boy or setting fire to the Koran - it was to keep teenagers from destroying their lives. A good thing. Catholics may interpret the Bible to say condom use is wrong, but that's a Catholic belief, and we don't live on Catholic Planet where everyone believes what they do. And it's merely an interpretation on the Bible - not literal - that many Catholics disagree with. They need to get a firmer grasp on reality and humanity, especially when the intention (but not means) of the offense was good of heart. If all Catholics do is over-react and villify non-Catholics like this, over and over and over, then you run the risk of having your concerns categorically dismissed as the ravings of that crazy lady down the street. When someone perverts the image to show God sticking a dildo in Mother Teresa, what are Catholic going to have left to say?

3] That you disagree with the message does not make it boorish.

Catholics do need to get over themselves. The world is not Catholic and it does not revolve around them - it didn't even do that when it was flat. We do not cater to their sensibilities, nor do we the sensibilities of other religions. We are under no obligation to obey Catholicism, its representatives, its teachings - some of which it entirely invents (divisions and payment plans for the afterlife), or even respect them in any way. Catholicism is one of many religions on this planet - arguably, the one that's caused the most harm - and it needs to remember that. It's arrogance and vanity to assume otherwise.

January 23, 2006 3:29 PM  

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