Anti-Catholic “Humor”: St. Thérèse of Lisieux as Hitler

Anti-Catholic “Humor”: St. Thérèse of Lisieux as Hitler March 6, 2020

John Bugay Tries to Justify it Based on Historic Anti-Semitism

[see a larger version of this image]

[The following controversy with one of the most vocal online anti-Catholics occurred in November 2011. John Bugay’s words will be in blue]

John Bugay posted the caricature above, of my blog, at Tribalblogue [eventually minus the original Hitler mustache and bangs], complete with additional middle school toilet humor. It’s an instant classic (in terms of documentation of anti-Catholic vitriol, contempt, and bigotry) and apparently considered funny as all get-out in these troglodyte circles. Notice how they leave Protestant C. S. Lewis unscathed (too bad he couldn’t be changed into Mao or Stalin, or maybe Jerry Lewis or Jerry Lee Lewis: to follow the juvenile “humor”). Nice touch there . . .

* * *

Bugay has now tried to justify his “satire”:

I am amazed at the feigned outrage in the response to these images, for what is absolutely a minimal amount of photo enhancement, certainly in response to some not-so-good-natured ribbing, richly enhanced with exaggerations and enhancements of its own. (11-29-11)

Not only was there nothing excessive or wrong whatsoever in what he did — so he claimed –, but he also has to pretend that our responses are “feigned.” Then he went on (in my combox) to explain the complex ethical  rationale behind his garbage:

[B]e sure you understand the symbolic meaning of the artwork in question. . . . official Rome distances itself from Roman Catholic policy toward the Jews over the centuries. And my point simply is, so long as Roman Catholics make excuses and dismiss official Roman Catholic behavior over the centuries, every single Roman Catholic — from the least to the greatest — is tainted by this “excused” and unconfessed official Roman sin. (11-30-11)

Asked why St. Thérèse in particular should be held up for ridicule and ludicrously portrayed as Hitler, Bugay wrote:

Merely that she is tainted by Roman escapism, the same way the rest of you are. (11-30-11)

He later watered this down (slightly):

I am not attributing any guilt to her — but when the organization is sullied, it reflects badly on all the members. (11-30-11)

And later, in the combox:

I suggest, in a visual way, that she, as a Roman Catholic, is tainted by (a) Rome’s policy toward the Jews in the 19th century, and (b) by Rome’s continuing failure to take any official responsibility at all — shifting the blame to “her children”.

I see. So “guilt by association” justifies drawing a Hitler mustache on a godly woman and a saint: implying that she has anything to do with a murderer of millions of people: one of the most wicked men to have ever lived.

I guess, then, that every Protestant today is “tainted” by the “excused” outrages and tortures and many thousands of murders / executions that have occurred under Protestant auspices: especially in England, where the Calvinists and Puritans in John’s heritage flourished: producing, for example, The Westminster Confession that he and all Calvinists are so fond of. I have documented these horrors in great detail on my web page: Protestantism: Historic Persecution and Intolerance.

England, under Butcher King Henry VIII, Good Queen Bess and other monarchs was a place where a person could have his heart cut out while alive, his intestines slowly drawn out, other outrages not fit to describe in mixed company, done to him, and then arms and legs and heads cut off, simply for the “treasonous” crime of being a Catholic (remember the final scene in Braveheart?). Most folks familiar with European history know what the English did to the Irish for several centuries (I have Irish blood myself). See the gory details on the page above. Isn’t it wonderful to hear both sides of the story for a change?

Bugay is fixated on the scandalous historic treatment of the Jews (which was quite as prevalent in Protestant countries: hence mostly Lutheran Germany hosted the Holocaust). I don’t know anyone who would deny it. Yet why is it that he would dwell on sins of many hundreds of years ago, while there was tremendous heroism during the Nazi Holocaust within the last seventy years? It is estimated that Pope Pius XII saved some 800,000 Jews: more than any other organization. Many articles have been written about this:

Pope Pius XI [not Pius XII] and the Nazis (Jimmy Akin)
Was Hitler a Christian? (Answers in Action)

Bugay carps in the revised version of his outrageous post:

But Roman Apologists will make every excuse to maintain Roman infallibility, while excusing ‘the Church’ for any and every one of its officially egregious behaviors over the centuries. Roman Catholic evasiveness is truly staggering.

Just as he lied about me recently, implying that I had never dealt with Orthodox arguments against the papacy (what a joke!); now he is doing it again (insofar as I am an apologist, and his present target): insinuating that I have never dealt with this. But I have, long since (more than three years ago):

Anti-Semitism in the Church Fathers and Catholic History: Resources and Recent Catholic Repentance [7-7-08]

So much for my own “evasiveness”. Does this mean I am spared from having a Hitler mustache now, because I freely admit that Catholics (like every other group of sinful human beings) have sinned terribly in the past?

Bugay also seemed at first to be ridiculously denying that in this “satire” St. Thérèse  was supposed to look like Hitler (though it was always possible that he was just playing around, as he is prone to do, and as he now has confirmed):

[P]lease note that it is C.S. Lewis, a famous teacher, who is threatening to crack Dave’s knuckles with a ruler”. Lewis is the one with the open mouth. St. Therese’s mouth is obviously closed. You certainly don’t know how to interpret satire.

And Paul Hoffer, how dare you accuse me of such a truly blasphemous and abominable behavior as to “draw a Hitler moustache”. That’s a ridiculous assertion. All that I did was to darken the shadow under her nose — which naturally exists in the existing photo! (11-30-11)

One “Mr. Fosi” appeared to agree with the denial:

John has denied that charge, so I don’t grant that he did draw a Hitler mustache on the pic. (11-30-11)

But Bugay then freely admitted it was supposed to look like Hitler. Brian wrote in the combox below:

It’s bad form to draw a Hitler mustache on St. Therese.

Bugay replied:

Brian, I agree. It’s bad form. I am “using an absurd example to communicate something that is absurd”.

Later Bugay explained on my blog:

This was obviously a “tongue in cheek” comment: . . . There is a scholastic difference between “drawing” and using the burn tool in photoshop. But you’ll just trumpet it, to be able to trumpet something. Doesn’t matter if you’re accurate about it.

And later at Tribalblogue:

It was an attempt at humor in the midst of this discussion, an attempt to trade on the amphiboly between “drawing a moustache” and “darkening a shadow” which naturally exists using a photoshop tool. (11-30-11)

And again in my combox below:

It wasn’t a “denial that it was a Hitler mustache” It was a denial of the method — which I thought to be a trade on words which I thought could possibly lighten the mood. It was a trade on the methods “drawing” vs “using a photoshop tool”.

Yes, the intention in both cases was to put a Hitler mustache there. No, I do not think anyone is a moron. Yes, it is in bad taste. No it is not blasphemy. Yes, the bad taste was intended to illustrate bad taste in other contexts, specifically those perpetrated here and in official Rome.

But despite all, Mr. Fosi was still giving the line that John had no intention to make it look like Hitler (replying to Paul):

You are still saying there is one. It looks pretty similar to the way it looks on Dave’s blog header. It may be sketchy but I’m going with John’s denial on this one.

Fellow anti-Catholic Mr. Fosi thought it was a denial (since he reiterated this twice); yet if we do the same thing, we don’t care about truth or accuracy. Fosi can make the mistake and that’s fine, because he’s an anti-Catholic. But if we do (and who knows when Bugay is serious or not? His so-called “serious” work is as ridiculous as his farce), we are morons. In any event, if we take John at his present word that it is what we all thought it was (a Hitler mustache), then above he is joking around about his blasphemy, thinking it is the most lighthearted thing in the world (and Fosi was quite serious and misinterpreted what Bugay says was “obvious”). It’s yet another instance of Bugay calling good evil. This is becoming a big theme with him.

Paul Hoffer has described the defamation as “blasphemous.” Steve Hays (webmaster of the site where this appeared) objected, stating:

His satire would only be blasphemous if it were directed at God (specifically, the one true God). It isn’t possible to blaspheme mere men and women. Your complaint reflects Catholic idolatry. (11-30-11)

[I then delved into the range of applications of “blasphemy” which I dealt with at length in another article. The original lengthy discussion / debate from this post in November 2011 can be seen in the archived version of this article]. Eventually, as I was arguing the point at Tribalblogue, Bugay decided to start deleting my comments, and turning off the comments altogether. These are the heights and absurdity that these anti-Catholics will scale, in order to avoid admitting that they were dead-wrong about the meaning and range of “blasphemy” in Holy Scripture.]


[IMPORTANT NOTE (REMOVAL)as of 8:20 PM, 11-30-11, after an entire day defending vociferously this outrage, Bugay removed the Hitler mustache (though nothing else in his satire), under pressure from his pastor and others. Blog regular Paul Hoffer had contacted his pastor and provided contact info. for others to do so. Bugay’s explanation appears on his blog post near the top, in all italics. It does not, however, contain any direct apology to Catholics: neither for the outlandish Hitler portrayal, nor absurd defenses of it all day long on his blog and mine, nor for the numerous other mockeries and insults remaining in the post, in his combox, and my combox. It’s one thing to do something (the right thing) in obedience to authorities, but begrudgingly or under protest; quite another to sincerely change one’s mind and heart, with a desire to make amends. I have objected to this in my combox:

How about an apology and a retraction, and explanation, after defending it all day, putting Catholics down en masse, as if it were the strangest thing in the world that we would have the slightest objection, and all your cronies doing the same? . . . show the true fruits of repentance . . . If you had a true change of heart, and now think it was wrong and never should have been done, then by all means let us know. We would respect that.

Nevertheless, this is a big step, and a positive development, even if a reluctant one by John, and I am happy to commend and thank him for it.  [second link]

Bugay had even mocked our outrage, saying it was fake: “I am amazed at the feigned outrage in the response to these images, for what is absolutely a minimal amount of photo enhancement . . .” This still remains in the post, right at the top. It’s clearly an insult and shot at our honest reactions: hardly a loving attitude. I think he needs to go the whole way: not just the minimal amount to get the heat off of himself. The post continues to mock Catholics all over the place, and St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, and St. Pope John XXIII as well. I would contend that these things also violate the spirit of the Scripture and Francis Schaeffer quotes that he deemed sufficient to require removal of the Hitler garbage.

Second Note (12-6-11; one addition on 12-7-11):  I have been informed that now I am being blasted for keeping the image up. My policy is that I document error and derogatory bigotry, etc. unless there is a full retraction and renunciation: in which case I am happy to remove the documentation. As I explained in my note above, it is not clear to me (at all) that this is an instance of full repentance, because the fruits of that are not apparent.

I think there was probably some change of mind (per Bugay’s disclaimer), though, if so, it was nowhere near adequate or sufficient, in accordance with the outrageousness of the act. We can only go by what we see, since we can’t read hearts. That is what the “fruits of repentance” is about (Matt 3:8; 7:16-20; 12:33; 21:43; Lk 3:8-9; 6:43-44; 8:14-15; Gal 5:22; Heb 12:11). This is Christianity 0101.

It looks like Bugay simply removed it because he was told to by his pastor and others, not because it was inherently (rather self-evidently) outrageous and uncharitable. He had been vigorously defending it for days. He hasn’t renounced anything else about it: all the accusations towards us, including supposed “feigned” outrage, or the mocking of Cardinal Newman or Pope John XXIII, or the prior refusal of charitable donations for his ailing wife, and wholesale mockery and insulting of those who would do so. He continued insulting my readers afterwards; calling us, e.g., “swine” and (again) a “rogue’s gallery.” He even has made a ridiculous, outlandish argument that he got the idea for the mustache from the shadow in the photo as it is on my blog.

Therefore, since his “removal” is not the same as a complete repentance and change of heart (since it shows no outward proof of those things), I keep it up, so as to document the anti-Catholic mentality. In order to remove the image and all the talk surrounding it, I would have to see a complete renunciation and fruits of a genuine change of heart. I don’t see that at all. I see nothing except his doing what his pastor told him to do: the very bare minimum of charity extended towards us. It seems to me like he was “sorry that he got caught,” and is covering his rear end: but little more. I made the plea above for him to go the whole way, but it was roundly ignored.

It is self-evidently ludicrous, furthermore, to make out (as another anti-Catholic — James Swan — is currently doing) that we are now mocking St. Therese because we didn’t remove the mocking image. Swan thinks (in some goofy alt-“logical” schema) that we (whom he calls “vipers”) have expressed “bogus outrage” and that “No one who made a stink about it was really offended,” and referred to “the entire episode you guys pretended to be upset about” (my italics). At the same time (a mere six sentences later!) he made the following utterly contradictory remark to blog regular Paul Hoffer: “I would agree with you and your friends that the picture was offensive.” Which is it?  I guess it depends on whether it is an odd-numbered date or not, and on the barometric pressure (between sunrise and noon) and humidity (after midnight, but before the owls come out). But it’s high comedy, whatever the view/anti-view/view of this singularly insightful heart- and mind-reading luminary is at any given time.

Unfortunately, targets of relentless bigotry and smear campaigns have to document what happens, lest people refuse to believe that such outrages occur at all (or don’t learn from them). Hence, African-Americans have documented the sad history of racist stereotyping. Jews have shown how they were caricatured and mocked in Nazi Germany, to arouse hatred towards them (I’ve been to museums in the Detroit area that do both things).

Likewise, we Catholics (at least apologists like myself) must demonstrate at times (in the worst cases, at least) how our religion is contemptuously treated. If there were genuine repentance, then sure, I would take it down. I always do that if someone changes their mind. Failing that, there is little choice but to leave it up. Bugay continues to refuse to exhibit the genuine and obvious fruits of repentance: the most elementary exercises of the Christian faith after committing a serious sin.

There is no evidence whatever that Bugay feels any differently about the whole incident than he ever did. Otherwise, he would cease calling us “swine” and so forth. It is all of a piece: how he has behaved and talked. The same attitudes that produced the blasphemous “satire” are still evident. The tree is known by its fruits. If we start seeing radically different fruits from Bugay, then we’ll talk seriously about complete removal. Thus far, he has spoken out of both sides of his mouth; at one point making a sweeping “apology,” then when asked to clarify exactly what he was apologizing for, stating that he was retracting nothing. On 12-7-11, he reiterated his refusal to acknowledge that he has done anything wrong, in this entire sad sequence of events: “I have not been unkind to anyone through this. My conscience is clear.” A person’s behavior is interpreted in the context of, and in light of, his or her behavior in the immediate past.

Third “Update” Note (12-6-11): The latest charge coming from the usual suspects is that looking for genuine repentance and its fruits is retrograde “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” ethics. I say that it is our opponents who are being proponents of “cheap grace” (many Calvinists have decried this tendency in Protestantism today) and contending (if not by word then by action) that (biblical) repentance need not show any fruits or change of behavior. St. Paul taught quite otherwise:

1 Corinthians 5:4-5 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, [5] you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

After the person repented, then Paul counseled that “you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Cor 2:7-8).  Elsewhere Paul connects outward deeds as the fruit of true repentance: “. . . perform deeds worthy of their repentance” (Acts 26:20). Our Lord Jesus said, “Bear fruit that befits repentance” (Matt 3:8). And again: “repent and do the works you did at first” (Rev 2:5). Bugay has not, sadly, exhibited these fruits. He continues to act as before.]


[see also the 186-comment vigorous discussion in my combox, preserved in the archived version of this post]


See also my Anti-Catholicism web page and James White web page.


Browse Our Archives