By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A priest in California is demanding that a novelty shop near San Francisco stop selling votive candles that depict President Obama as a saint with a halo and sporting the robes of a friar.
According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Father Tony La Torre of St. Philip the Apostle Church in Noe Valley says the candle “mocks Jesus” and “depicts our beloved saints in a not so saintly way.”
The $15 candles are being sold by Just for Fun, a local gift shop, and owner Robert Ramsey says they’re selling like hotcakes. The store has sold 700 since they first appeared in his store window at Christmas.
The candles feature the president’s halo-adorned head superimposed over the body of St. Martin de Porres, one of the first black saints in the Americas.
“I am appalled that in such a family-oriented neighborhood, any retailer would be so bigoted and so hateful (as) to carry such merchandise just to ‘make a buck,’ ” Fr. La Torre declared recently in the parish newsletter.
Fr. La Torre claims this isn’t the first time the shop owners have mocked the Church. He said the candles, which were featured in a prominent window display, were the “final straw” for a store “that feels the need to mock and ridicule the Catholic/Christian faith.”
Thus far, the store owners have refused to meet with Fr. La Torre to discuss his concerns. Instead, they posted a copy of Fr. La Torre’s newsletter in the window next to the Obama candle.
So far, the only effect of the controversy seems to be a lot of free advertising and, unfortunately, an increased demand for the offensive candles.
“Tomorrow, I got 72 more coming,” Ramsey said.
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