The letter headlined “I Will Defend My Mother’s Purity!” in large, all-red caps arrived the day after Mother’s Day. Inside, was a fundraising letter from America Needs Fatima (ANF). Their appeal? Send some money to save the reputation of Mary, Mother of God, from a “terrible attack!” (For Catholics, Our Lady of Fatima is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
It turns out that the good folks at ANF have drawn battle lines around The City Theatre (TCT) in Austin, Texas (seating capacity 80). Why the battle? TCT is mounting a production of Paul Rudnick’s 1999 play “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told!,” a long-running Broadway hit. “Fabulous,” by openly gay playwright Rudnick, contains updated Biblical stories where “...instead of Adam and Eve, our lead characters are Adam and Steve, and Jane and Mabel, a lesbian couple with whom they decide to start civilization.” And, even more upsetting for Robert E. Reich, Executive Director of ANF, is Rudnick’s own description of his play, “I wanted the Garden of Eden in Central Park, and Mary as a lesbian mother, which would certainly help me comprehend immaculate conception.”
Mr. Reich’s appeal also discloses that the play shows Adam and Steve in “full frontal nudity!” (Perhaps Mr. Reich is unaware that some refer to Austin as being the San Francisco of Texas!)
Despite being apoplectic over Mary’s staged plight as a lesbian mother, Mr. Reich managed to jump-start the “My Mother’s Purity!” campaign. He must feel that a cash infusion is the best way to protest this “terrible attack on the Mother of God! - because she is insulted as a lesbian!”
ANF’s appeal was threefold. First, the recipient was asked to send the enclosed “STOP BLASPHEMY” postcard to TCT. Second, to request additional free STOP BLASPHEMY postcards for community distribution and third, to “send a generous gift to help fund America Needs Fatima’s massive protest against this blasphemy.” (I wonder if Mr. Reich also hit up the Faithful for money to soothe Mary during the current worldwide child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church?) He has learned that Catholics are among the world’s most devout, loyal and generous religious folk, too bad that money, necessary for true charities, is siphoned off by this type of hateful nonsense.
ANF is a Roman Catholic 501(c) 3 charitable organization with reported donations, in 2009, of over $7,300,000. With that figure, and seeing that Mary is the Mother of God, it’s quite clear that Her purity is probably more safe than that banked 7 mil.
ANF is an offspring of The Foundation for a Christian Civilization (FCC). Their website confesses, “Contributions to FCC are 100% tax-deductible. FCC receives 100% of all contributions. Approximately 78% of all contributions (Actually less, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office; just above 75%.) is used for FCC’s charitable purposes, namely, the furtherance of the values of Christian civilization.” Hmmm...that 25%, not given for charitable purposes? Adds up to almost $2,000.000! In addition, according to the NJ AG office, there is no guarantee that money donated to save Mary actually goes for that purpose since FCC controls the purse strings.
Nonetheless, being curious about the effectiveness of ANF’s “massive protest,” I talked with Andy Berkovsky, Managing Director of TCT . Andy told me that, within the first week of the “Defend My Mother” mailing, TCT received over 5,000 e-mails, hundreds of pre-printed postcards and telephone calls.
The e-mail messages were 99.9% the same:
“I vehemently protest your showing the blasphemous play The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, which among other unspeakable blasphemies, refers to the Virgin Mary as a lesbian.
“The Holy Mother of God is most pure and holy. To refer to her as a lesbian, or even to insinuate it, is an unspeakable blasphemy, which I reject with all my soul. I fear God’s wrath will fall upon us if reparation is not made.
“If you continue with this presentation, Catholics will oppose it in one of the largest and loudest peaceful and legal protests ever seen.”
A 12 year-old girl wrote: “HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING. THIS IS ONE OF MOST BEAUTIFUL STORY'S OF ALL TIME AND YOU MESS IT UP BY SAYING THAT OUR LADY IS A LESBIAN. YOUR A IDIOT.”
Some e-mails came with explicit titles: “Where in the bible does it read that ass-fucking or tongue or finger lingus is natural????” One tried to refute lesbianism, “Mary had other children beside Jesus, Be careful!” And others seemed to negate ANF’s message, “Christ said ‘Let the one with no sin cast the first stone.’ Let's look at our conduct and leave others alone.”
What prompted TCT to produce “Fabulous”? Andy recollected, “We have always been huge fans of Paul Rudnick’s work with his play “Jeffrey” recently produced in Austin at the Arts on Real Theatre. “Most Fabulous” is a play with a lot of humor, but with a lot of heart as well. We pride ourselves in staging all types of live theatre and with much variety to every season. We always hope to appeal to the wide range of people who make up the Austin theatre community.”
The play opens on June 10 and runs until July 4. ANF’s attack has induced Barry Pineo of the Austin Chronicle to do a feature story on TCT and “Fabulous.” I predict that TCT’s 80 seats will be a hot ticket.