See All Topics

Home / Section: Controversies

Crowds protest John Cole cartoon

John Cole's Controversial Cartoon

A John Cole editorial cartoon that ran on October 4th depicting a local Scranton, Pa. Catholic Bishop as part-elephant (symbol of Republican Party) holding a paper that said, “thou shalt not vote on any issue but abortion” was protested by about 45 people who gathered outside of the Times-Tribune office accusing the paper of “anti-Catholic bigotry.”

The cartoon referenced an order by the bishop to his priests to remind parishioners to “to keep the church’s position on abortion paramount in their minds” in this year’s election.

In an interview John defended the cartoon, “This isn’t an anti-Catholic thing. There is a principle of separation of church and state, which personally to me is very important, as well as I believe single-issue politics is almost always not a good idea. And that’s my only point, and that’s what drove the cartoon. So I’m not picking on the Catholics.”

Community Comments

#1 Rick Stromoski
October/24/2008
@ 7:37 am

Where were all these protestors when their bishops were systematically protecting child rapists? They seem more concerned with protecting a cluster of cells than their own children in the hands of these monsters.

#2 Mike Sieber
October/24/2008
@ 9:01 am

Once Catholics found out about the abuse scandal they did come out and protest. To suggest that they stood idly by, and ignored the issue once it was brought to light, is terribly irresponsible.

#3 Jeff Darcy
October/24/2008
@ 9:41 am

I’m a Pro-Life Catholic. Fanatastic cartoon John! That image is a classic!
How Pro Life is a Republican ticket that wants to leave our soldiers at deaths door in Iraq for 100 years and gives the thumbs up to blowing away polar bears from helicoptors. The continued warped reasoning of some my churches Bishops never ceases to amaze me.

#4 John Auchter
October/24/2008
@ 9:43 am

Excellent editorial cartoon, John. A strong opinion beautifully rendered with a very clever “elephant in the room” play on words. Really everything an editorial cartoon hopes to be, including eliciting a response. Has to be a bit frustrating that the cartoon is neither anti-Catholic nor bigoted, but having the point missed is often part of the experience, huh?

#5 Wiley Miller
October/24/2008
@ 9:57 am

“Iâ??m a Pro-Life Catholic.”

I believe you mean anti-abortion Catholic. To say you’re a “pro-life Catholic” infers that there are Catholics who are anti-life.

#6 Dave Krainacker
October/24/2008
@ 10:41 am

Great cartoon. I think Mr. Cole speaks to many Catholics who often feel compelled to vote for or against a candidate only on the abortion issue. Many candidates will oppose abortion, but be in direct opposition to a myriad of other church teachings. Things like feeding the poor, helping the homeless, just war policy seemed to get shunted to the side. So I’m often left with the choice of either voting for a candidate that I agree with only on abortion, or a candidate that I disagree with on abortion but agree with on everything else. I believe it was Cardinal Joseph Bernardin who stated “Rather than making this a country where no one can have an abortion, we should make this a country where no wants an abortion”. I have a difficult time supporting someone who is pro-life on abortion, but anti-life (to quote Mr. Miller) on many other issues.
It was a very appropriate cartoon.

#7 Jeff Darcy
October/24/2008
@ 11:39 am

Correction: I’am anti-abortion-turning a cartoonist blog into a picky english linguist teachers blog-Catholic.

#8 David Crews
October/24/2008
@ 12:11 pm

I don’t think most catholics vote just on the abortion issue. In fact, I’m pretty sure that democrats typically get the majority of the catholic vote. Look at the northeastern US. Very blue, very catholic.

#9 Alan Gardner
October/24/2008
@ 12:22 pm

Ah, the flicker of political flame war. As much as I dread ’em, I miss ’em.

Okay, as long as we’re civil and not calling each other (or the groups we associate with) names, let’s have a conversation.

I thought John’s cartoon was great. No problem there for me. I took issue with his defense of the cartoon – namely the issue of separation of church and state. I am not advocating that our government should have an official or unofficial religion, adopt a particular religious philosophy, or have religious litmus tests for candidates seeking office, etc.

But I don’t understand how is it a threat to the separation of church and state for a religious organization to take a stand on an issue important to it. The NRA, ACLU, Unions of all kinds, environmentalists – they all get to advocate their positions to their followers. Telling a religion that they can’t participate in the political system because of the type of organization they are sounds a lot like discrimination.

#10 Alan Gardner
October/24/2008
@ 12:24 pm

To David Crews comment – here is CNN’s polling breakdown of the 2004 presidential election. Scroll down to see which denomination voted for whom.

#11 Josh McDonald
October/24/2008
@ 12:40 pm

For what it’s worth; Wiley, I think he does mean “pro-life Catholic” — and I’d argue that indeed some Catholics are more pro-life than others. Speaking for myself, when I describe myself as a “pro-life Catholic” that means I oppose the death penalty, war and violent conflict, torture, oppressive poverty, violations of basic human rights, etc. Some Catholics begin and end with abortion. Which, of course, is the whole point of the cartoon (and the protest) under discussion.

#12 anne hambrock
October/24/2008
@ 12:43 pm

I just don’t think I can stand one more election boiled down to a single issue whether it’s abortion or not. Any president has to keep an awful lot of plates in the air and the next one is going to be dealing with some doozies.

I also understand the defense of the cartoonist’s emphasis on separation of church and state. While I am perfectly happy to hear my minister’s views on political topics at a social gathering, I feel there is no place in the pulpit for someone to try to tell me how to vote. Ever. Period.

#13 Alan Gardner
October/24/2008
@ 12:55 pm

I feel there is no place in the pulpit for someone to try to tell me how to vote. Ever. Period.

I don’t mind churches explaining their case for why one should vote a particular way – they’re just another special interest group to me. My opinion radically changes if said church changes a member’s standing (excommunication, withholding sacrament or other religious activities) within their denomination because an individual opts to vote differently than what was advocated.

#14 anne hambrock
October/24/2008
@ 1:24 pm

“they’re just another special interest group to me”

I guess I can’t look at it that way Alan. This isn’t my union boss or my PTA president. Those people are heads of special interest groups. A minister’s job is to interperet scripture and lead a person to their own understanding of salvation and the good of mankind. Telling me how to vote puts it all in a much more “corporate” vein. I understand your distinction between a recommendation and an edict (withholding of sacraments etc.) but many people are easily pressured by those in authority and may have trouble distinguishing between the two.

#15 David Crews
October/24/2008
@ 2:15 pm

Interesting numbers Alan. That one surprises me. It will be interesting to see how it shapes up this year.

#16 Rick Stromoski
October/24/2008
@ 2:28 pm

>>Once Catholics found out about the abuse scandal they did come out and protest. To suggest that they stood idly by, and ignored the issue once it was brought to light, is terribly irresponsible.

I agree that most Catholics didn’t stand idly by, quite the contrary. They took the side of the priests and cardinals bishops and Pope when the victims made the abuse public. Victims and their families were ostracized by their fellow parishioners time and time again. All the while the pederast priests were being sheltered and shuffled off to prey on other innocents. The Church fought tooth and nail against every accuser and had to create an enormous slush fund to buy their victims silence. The Church Hierarchy knew full well for decades what was going on and did nothing to stop it.

#17 Mike Sieber
October/24/2008
@ 2:42 pm

We’ll just have to agree to share different views of reality on this, Rick. Everything I saw and read suggested that there were protests and outrage by the people. I did do some googling and found articles on the protests by Catholics against the Church and against the priests.

I’m not a Catholic anymore, so I don’t have any axe to grind either way. I saw protests on TV and I read about protests. You say it didn’t happen, I say it did.

We’ll agree to disagree on this, I guess.

#18 Tom Wood
October/24/2008
@ 7:28 pm

But I donâ??t understand how is it a threat to the separation of church and state for a religious organization to take a stand on an issue important to it. The NRA, ACLU, Unions of all kinds, environmentalists – they all get to advocate their positions to their followers. Telling a religion that they canâ??t participate in the political system because of the type of organization they are sounds a lot like discrimination.

Churches are tax exempt. That means that churches, in effect, get a subsidy from the government. That subsidy is granted under the express agreement that the churches will not interfere with government. It’s a devil’s bargain that comes directly from our European history where the intertwining of church and government lead to constant murder and mayhem.

If you really want to see how it would work to have government subsidized churches AND let them have an influence on government, visit the Middle East.

#19 Garey Mckee
October/24/2008
@ 8:54 pm

Any cartoon that illicits such a uproarous response by any party no matter what idealogy they align with, is a good cartoon!

#20 James Middleton
October/27/2008
@ 9:31 am

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths, a statistic.

Religion is the opium of the masses.

The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion…(first in political thought, then in private).

#21 James Middleton
October/27/2008
@ 9:36 am

By the way, I thought it was damn fine cartoon!

#22 Beth Cravens
October/27/2008
@ 10:02 am

I don’t see anything wrong with a church expressing it’s views about the issues of the day as long as it’s only the issues. When religious leaders endorse political candidates, I get a little twitchy.

#23 John Cole
October/28/2008
@ 5:34 am

I’ve been on the road since last Thursday and am just now getting back into the saddle.

Alan, Tom Wood sums up my stumble-bum explanation of the church-state issue (the only thing more embarrassing than hearing your voice recorded is reading your words in a quote). If the bishop wants to endorse a particular candidate or party – and that’s exactly what he did here – then let him pay taxes like any other political hack. The same goes for the protestant pastors in the midwest (Indiana, I think) who are facing off against the IRS.

And thanks to all for the nice comments.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.