I have just now read “Letters” on page three of your 2002/07/12 issue. I find the letter “That Blasphemous Cartoon,” ostensibly penned by Raymond E. Drake, president of the “American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property,” to be so rife with vile invective that it demands a retort.

Mr. Drake is not defending the honor of God, whose honor needs no defending. Mr. Drake is attempting to increase the membership and revenues of his “TFP organization” by picking a fight over a cartoon, which was printed under the free-speech laws of the United States of America. Most Americans, myself included, cherish free speech.

Mr. Drake’s “perfect god” may exist and it may not; this is a subject that can be (and has been) debated forever. What is not perfect is Mr. Drake’s Catholic church, a bastion of misogyny, homophobia, war against “those who do not believe,” exploitation of the poor, and–most recently viewed in many people’s minds–as a watershed of sexual abuse of children. (NB: I do not believe that all Catholics agree with Mr. Drake, so the threat of “motivating America’s 70 million Catholics” is a red herring at best, a canard at worst.)

As a Woman, I believe that it is high time for Mr. Drake’s Catholic church to accept women as equals. We are, you know. Get with The Program.

As I’m a Queer, Mr. Drake would damn me to hell–his church has a long history of homophobia. Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, Danny Overstreet, PFC Barry Winchell, J.R. Warren, Billy Jack Gaither, and over 200 transsexuals and gender-variant people are dead because homophobia has been pounded into the heads of children by various religious groups, Mr. Drake’s Catholic church being one of them.

And as I’m a Jew, Mr. Drake would doubly damn me, as I do not agree with the dogma of his Catholic church, which has a long and sordid history of Jew hating. For example, the recent transmission of the “Blood Libel” on Arabic television news was merely an echo of the original Blood Libel (later canonized by Mr. Drake’s Catholic church), and echoed throughout history, most notably by Pope Innocent III against the Jews during the Fourth Lateran Council. I find no religious group/movement above criticism, even mine.

Mr. Drake, in attempting to place his “perfect god and church” above criticism, is in fact mimicking the fundamental Muslim Wahabi group (and others), who believe that “any criticism of Islam is deserving of a fatwa,” e.g., the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie. In all things moderation. I find extremism–regardless of the type–to be extremely dangerous.

It’s the third millennium of your “church,” Mr. Drake. It’s time to deal with difference. If people disagree with your beliefs, that’s not wrong–that’s their right. Your “faith” has a long history of exploitation of Women, Queers, People of Color, and Jews. It is wholly immoral to drive up your TFP revenues (er, membership) by implying that difference of opinion is bad. Enough with the hate.

In my opinion–which is worth no more nor less than that of Mr. Drake–a “perfect god” would never tolerate people who make money amplifying or disseminating hate. By defending an institution that legitimizes hate, and attempting to raise this institution above the level of criticism, Mr. Drake is “aiding and abetting” in the amplification and dissemination of hate. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

As far as criticism and satire go, if you can’t take the heat, come out of the kitchen–or closet–Mr. Drake.

Yvette Seifert Hirth