Today’s example of Christian privilege: Delta Airlines

I’ve racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles with Delta, but I’m going to have to consider other airlines next time I’m booking a flight. I just don’t feel comfortable supporting a business that easily succumbs to the orders of religious bigots.

The Catholic League announced Monday that Delta Air Lines had pulled its sponsorship of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show following a boycott launched by the organization.

“I encourage everyone to choose Delta the next time they fly,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue said. “We need to support advertisers who act responsibly.”

What could the Daily Show have done that possibly justifies Delta pulling its support?

The Catholic League launched a boycott against the sponsors of the The Daily Show in April over a segment that featured “vagina mangers.” In the segment, which aired on April 16, Stewart mocked Fox News for criticizing the phrase “war on women,” even though the network promoted the phrase “war on Christmas” for years.

“What can women do to generate the same sense of outrage from Fox as” the alleged war on Christmas, Stewart asked. “Perhaps they could play into the theme. Maybe women could protect their reproductive organs from unwanted medical intrusions with vagina mangers.”

A picture of a nude women with a nativity scene ornament between her leg appeared beside Stewart, which Donohue described as an “unprecedented vulgar assault on Christians.”

Let’s back up and review this situation:

  1. A photo of a manger is photoshopped to cover a woman’s genitals
  2. This is to illustrate how Christians care more about forcing their own religion on everyone else on this country than the health and lives of women.
  3. The Catholic League responds by forcing their own religion on everyone else in this country because that’s more important than the discussion about the health and lives of women.

Leave it to Ol’ Bigot Bill Donohue to miss the point that badly. It’s not shocking – forcing Catholicism down everyone’s throats is the goal of the Catholic League. But that doesn’t mean businesses need to succumb to their will. Yet that’s the choice Delta made – to show that Christian privilege is more important than women’s health.

Donohue’s next target is Kellogg’s:

“Donohue outlined his attack strategy against Kellogg’s on the Catholic League website today: “Today, all the top management at Kellogg’s will receive a color photo of a naked woman with her legs spread and a nativity scene ornament in between. Let’s see if that jars them. Over 700 photos have been sent to leaders in Battle Creek, Michigan.”

Ah yes, the tactic of relying on misogynists being terrified of the naked female body in order to enact social change. I like it better when liberal groups do it to point out bigotry, rather than bigots using it as some sort of bigot bat signal.

Let’s hope other sponsors of the Daily Show aren’t so quick to fall to religious pressure. And make sure to let Delta (@delta on twitter) know about how you feel.


  1. Murray says

    Bill Donohue is a despicable toad. Anyone who manages to attract his ire ought to wear it as a badge of honour. Not that it’s difficult to piss him off, since he’s basically a professional whiner.

  2. dianne says

    Dang! Wish I’d seen this last week when I was deciding which airline to use. The choices are getting pretty narrow, but removing Delta still makes sense.

  3. Caliguy7281 says

    (My letter to Delta)

    To whom it may concern,

    Recently Delta Airlines has pulled it’s sponsorship of The Daily Show, due to political pressure from Bill Donohue and the Catholic League. I understand bowing to political pressure to offend the least amount of clients that you can. However I think Delta might have made a mistake by siding with the 68.5 million potential Catholic fliers and not the 165 million potential women fliers. In the argument between religious privilege and women’s health, the choice Delta made was to show that Christian privilege is more important than women’s health. And that is why, until this position of Delta’s is reversed I will not be flying with your airline. While my family and I are only 3 people, we’re planning a trip at the end of this month from San Francisco to D.C. That’s about $1800 that you’ve lost. Hopefully Delta will change it’s mind and re-sponsor the Daily Show, but until that day you’ve lost me and my family as customers.

  4. Tim says

    “…forcing Catholicism down everyone’s throats…”

    Or up their genitals, as the case may be.

  5. M Groesbeck says

    @ Caliguy —

    Framing it in terms of women vs *all* Catholics overstates Donohue’s influence. Despite their odd attachment to a bullshit authoitarian hierarchy that sneers at their opinions, Catholics are generally no more reactionary than non-Catholics. The comparison isn’t between 165+ million women and 68.5 million Catholics; it’s betwen 165+ million women and the smaller number of right-wing “obedient” Catholics. (In the proudly Catholic family I was raised in, ignoring and/or mocking the Church hierarchy was practically a sacrament. I just took it one small step further by dropping Christianity entirely.) I wonder if Delta didn’t do the math here. (Or, maybe more likely, they and Donohue are playing by Santorum rules; right-wing Catholics don’t trumpet their Catholicism to sway Catholics, they do it to let Evangelicals feel entitled to the support of everyone that the Church calls Catholic.)

  6. Jett Perrobone says

    …which Donohue described as an “unprecedented vulgar assault on Christians.”

    Typical extremist Christians. Criticise or make fun of their religion, and they’ll accuse you of attacking them. *eyeroll*

  7. T.J. says

    Huh. I live in Battle Creek, MI, and I have not yet received my Vagina Manger photo. I suppose I’m not high up enough in the Cereal Hierarchy to merit junk mail from lunatics.

  8. says

    When you believe that any expression of an opinion that’s different from yours is a kind of attack on you … well, that’s got to be a horrible way to go through the world.

  9. imnotspecial says

    Donohue is an ashole…….

    but the picture is in bad taste. Stewart should have known better. He can make his points and be less crude at the same time.

    Cancelling flights is also a bit immature. If I stopped looking out for my own interests every time some business is pissing me off, I would be probably poor by now.

  10. mas528 says

    Yes, hiding something beautiful with that catholic obscenity was distasteful.

    Yeah, you’re an idiot.

  11. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    yeah. those crazy bitchez and their hysterical overreactions to everything amirite? :)

  12. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    How many of those Catholics do you think will actually follow Donohue’s lead in boycotting the airline? If it’s a majority, I expect it’s barely one.

  13. says

    Yeah, well, I get a feeling that you have no idea what I mean, in spite of my use of simple declarative sentences.

  14. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    It says he finds female bodies to be beautiful and catholic icons to be obscene.

    An you, as you said, find the same to be “crude”.

    I wonder if you’re even aware of what that does say about you?

  15. muletonic says

    “The Catholic League responds by forcing their own religion on everyone else in this country because that’s more important than the discussion about the health and lives of women.”

    In what universe does not funding a television program equate to forcing one’s religion on everyone else? I hate catholics as much as the next guy, but that’s pretty damn hyperbolic.

  16. BethE says

    Because it’s a step in the forcing.

    John Stewart points out that the Catholic Church is wrong (and silly) about women and women’s bodies.

    The Catholic League takes it _personally_ and as abuse and insult and, like many people who get told that they are wrong and silly, cry out that John Stewart be punished! (Because they are oppressed, you see?) Because they and their religion are being mocked for being True Believers and Right and all that jazz. They are being oppressed, not women. They are being wronged, not the women who are being denied contraception and health care because of the Catholic Church and their little fit about health insurance.

    If they can get John Stewart to shut up, they prove that They Are Right. That they _should_ be able to tell everyone what to do with their bodies, even if you aren’t a Catholic. (Because the Church doesn’t want to pay for anyone’s birth control stuff, even if you aren’t a Catholic and are working for them.) They get the media to back off, they get the government to go _their_ way on health care, then they are telling everyone what to do, not just Catholics.

    (Please read this next bit in Lewis Black’s voice)
    Personally, I think Stewart is wrong! He _should_ apologize!
    It’s _not_ a vagina manger, it’s a vagina _creche_!

  17. godlesspanther says

    Bill Donohue is so hyper-sensitive about his stupid church. He begs people to ridicule the Catholic Church just so we can watch him blow a gasket.

  18. says

    Long-term Delta frequent flyer here. I sent them an email telling them that my frequent flying will be going to another company. Two can play at this game.

  19. says

    Well, I don’t agree with squat the Catholic League says, but this isn’t “privilege”, it’s a group of people acting in concert to apply economic pressure to an entity to get a certain result. In this case, Donohue’s band of loons were successful. that decision may be reversed, but the technique is not one of “privilege”, it’s the same technique many people used to apply pressure to Limbaugh’s sponsors after he called Sandra Fluke a slut.

    I’m disappointed in Delta, (I can’t really boycott them, i’m in tallahassee, my airline choices are more than rather limited), but what Donohue and the other loons did wasn’t religious privilege.

    It was just a boycott and a successful one at that. If that’s “Christian Privilege”, what was it in Limbaugh’s case? Or the NAACP boycott against Miami some years ago? Or the gobs of other boycotts not brought by religious groups?

    There’s a metric shitton of Christian Privilege in this country, but this ain’t it.

  20. imnotspecial says

    Look, I don’t have a problem with the female body, but this one? Bony knees, big belly? WTF?

  21. gussnarp says

    Sadly, I have no choice but to continue to fly Delta, much as I have no choice but to receive health care from a Catholic hospital system, because they have an effective monopoly in my region. Which is actually the point in the end, when the Catholic Church decides to run a huge health care organization that monopolizes the industry in a region, they are obligated to provide care to everyone based on sound medical decision making rather than their personal religious beliefs. The only alternative to Catholic hospitals being willing to act against their religious beliefs for the well being of their patients is for the government to take over Catholic hospitals should they become too large and break them up, sell them whole to a non-religious institution, or run them itself.

  22. gussnarp says

    “Bony knees, big belly?”

    I take it you haven’t seen many women naked outside of porn.

  23. Bleeder says

    I don’t suppose that anyone has bothered to consider the possibility that this is merely the Eye of Sauron taking credit for something that was completely independent of his boycott. The Daily Show must have hundreds of different sponsors in the course of a year. There is some average turnover rate, whatever the number. In any given period of time, a certain number of sponsors will decide not to continue buying ads, and a certain number of new sponsors will start buying ads.

    So BillDo’s plan goes something like this:
    Step 1 — Declare boycott
    Step 2 — Wait until some company stops buying ads
    Step 3 — Declare victory
    Step 4 — ?????
    Step 5 — Profit!

    FWIW, Delta’s spokesperson claims their decision has nothing to do with the Catholic League, just routine re-eval of ad spending priorities. I find their statement to be neither implausible nor convincing, but it has more credibility with me than BillDo’s claim to have forced them to submit to his will.

  24. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    It was just a boycott and a successful one at that. If that’s “Christian Privilege”, what was it in Limbaugh’s case? Or the NAACP boycott against Miami some years ago? Or the gobs of other boycotts not brought by religious groups?

    *facepalm* So, you have no idea what privilege means, but your damn sure this isn’t an example it?

  25. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    LOL it’s a cute little bigot troll, isn’t it. Someone pat him on the head and give him a lollypop so he’ll stop acting up. Or else SOMEONE better go down for a nap!

  26. says

    I know exactly what privilege means. What isn’t clear is how a boycott by a religious group is somehow an example of “privilege” and yet the exact same tactic used successfully for progressive and/or secular aims is not. Donahue ran a successful boycott, although as bleeder points out, he’s e only source for his claims that his boycott cause delta’s actions.

    There’s nothing about this that says “privilege”. It was a boycott that lots of people disagreed with, which is true for every boycott.

    Again, how does this add up to Christian privilege?

  27. Andrew says

    Ironically, The Daily Show is a strongly pro-religion show. I just about gag every time Stewart deflects criticism of religion with the old “the extremists just make it look bad” excuse.

  28. says

    Same in Dublin in the early 80’s. The hard core were out in force against abortion (which is something I confess to myself to not thinking is exactly wonderful) and the Monty Python film “Life of Brian”.

    OK parading their habits about against abortion, but no practical or financial help offered from them to the mums of the potentially unwanted offspring that might have resulted!

    No chance of offering women their own right to choose.

    And as for “The Life of Brian”. The wizened old frumps neither watched the film nor could prove the contrent of that most violent of Chinese whisper books that is the world’s best seller.

    Who’s to say Brian never existed? There’s as much proof as there is for the exiastence of other godlike beings.

  29. Jurjen S. says

    Actually, that thought did occur to me. After all, the marketing department at Delta have to be smart enough to figure out that the number of Daily Show viewers has to got to far outstrip the number of supporters the Catholic League has.

  30. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So . .. you have no idea what privilege means, but you’re sure this isn’t an example of it.

    Well, let’s see. What’s the glaringly obvious difference between African American/Women/Gays/etc. and organized religion. Specifically, the established organized religion of a superpower?

  31. P W says

    What I want to know is why people insist on misspelling “Woman” as “Women” as you do here. What’s with that?

  32. jnorris says

    Can’t help but note that Bill Donohue doesn’t ask Jesus to smite the people who offend Christianity in general and Roman Catholicism in particular. I believe thare is fundimental lack of faith in ol’ BO.

  33. Leo says

    I agree with Delta here, but they should remain neutral. They should also consider their endorsements for GLAAD and LGBT, since this may alienate many of their customers. It this polarized climate its appropriate to remain neutral. I have been diamond medellion for the past 3 years and plantinum every year since 2004. I think Delta should worry about being an airline.

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