By Deborah Gyapong (Canadian Catholic News, Ottawa, May 17, 2007) – The Catholic Civil Rights League has protested against blasphemous content in a Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) television-pilot program “The Altar Boy Gang.”

The May 11 program featured a group of altar servers who are using their parish connections to enter the drug trade. “At various points in the program, the Communion host is depicted as munchable snack food, possible poker chips and a repository for drops of LSD. Drug-laced hosts are left in the confessional for pick-up,” says a May 15 news release.

“Within the past year, the CBC hired an independent Muslim Canadian consultant to ensure that religious sensitivities were respected in its program Little Mosque on the Prairie,” said League executive director Joanne McGarry, asking if any Catholic previewed “The Altar Boy Gang.”
“If not, why the double standard?” she asked.

“With this program, the CBC has moved into the area of blasphemy of sacred rituals. Can we expect similar treatment for other religious groups?” she wrote. “Catholics should not have to pay for shows where their most sacred rituals and images are considered a starting point for dramatic license,” she said of the network that receives government funding.

The Catholic Civil Rights League has also been successful in getting the Mac’s Milk convenience store chain to withdraw “offensive” posters for its Froster’s campaign.

“The poster features a goat and a model dressed in traditional nuns’ clothing, appearing to gaze heavenward at the drink, which is festooned with the letters: “W.T.F.” (The company’s official line is that this stands for “what’s the flavor.”) W.T.F. also refers to “what the f***” among people who use abbreviations for text messaging and Internet chat.

The league reported it contacted Mac’s marketing staff to show why the images were offensive and should be removed. It made them aware of a 2004 Advertising Standards of Canada decision that ruled the satirical depiction of nuns were against their guidelines, since nuns were so closely identified with Catholicism. The guidelines say advertising should not demean or denigrate any identifiable group.

The league said the marketing manager said no offense was intended and agreed posters would be removed from any store where there was a complaint. (Editor’s note: The chain has since removed all the posters from its stores.)

© Canadian Catholic News, May 17, 2007