Saturday, November 13, 1999

Protesters picket
satirical movie
as ‘put-down’
of Christ

The controversy swirling
around 'Dogma' attracts
filmgoers and detractors

By Leila Fujimori


Protests and a packed house.

That was the scene at the 1:45 p.m. showing at Dole Cannery Theatres of the controversial film "Dogma," which opened yesterday in Honolulu.

Marilyn Wong was picketing outside because "the movie is anti-Catholic and it blasphemes our Lord and the Blessed Mother," she said.

She and Starlette Souza, who were part of a protest organized here by Catholics United for Faith, held signs that read, "Dogma: Actors Paid with Your Money to Mock God" and "Dogma is Religious Bigotry."

Wong said it would be wrong for Catholics to attend the movie and "laugh at a put-down of our Lord."

But Robert Care of Honolulu, who saw the movie, said: "I myself am a Catholic, and it (the film) brought up a lot of good points. The protesters should watch the movie first and then make a decision on their own."

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
At the entrance to the Dole Cannery Parking lot, Starlette Souza,
left, and Marilyn Wong hold signs yesterday
protesting the movie "Dogma."

He said the film makes people assess their beliefs, something he believes is scary for some.

"Dogma" is a satire of Christianity, and Catholicism in particular. It was directed by Kevin Smith ("Clerks") and stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as fallen angels, comedian Chris Rock as the 13th apostle and singer Alanis Morrisette as God.

The film has generated protests nationwide.

Jeann Long, who said she was kicked out of Catholic school for asking too many questions, thought the movie is "done in a humorous way, but it makes people think."

"I found it rather humorous," said Karen Gushikuma of Pearl City. "If we can't laugh at ourselves and our faith, what's it all about?"

Others, like Frank Chisholm of Kahala, said: "I don't think anyone should have been offended by the movie. It's just a movie."

In a telephone interview, Daniel McGivern, president of Pro-Family Hawaii and the former head of the Hawaii Christian Coalition, said he finds it disrespectful that a woman plays God, and particularly an actress who is known to use "the 'F' word."

McGivern took out advertisements against "Dogma" yesterday in Honolulu's daily newspapers and participated in the picketing.

A spokesman for the Hawaii Catholic Diocese could not be reached for comment, but McGivern said it did not want to call attention to the movie.

Wong -- who said she also protested director Martin Scorsese's 1988 film "The Last Temptation of Christ" -- felt the diocese's stand is to avoid doing anything about the movie. Yet, she said, "We have to take a stand for our faith," even though it may publicize and possibly popularize the movie.

"We're not here to criticize anybody, but we're here to awaken the conscience of people's minds and hearts," said Souza, a member of St. Patrick's Church in Kaimuki.

The protesters said they hoped to stop moviegoers from seeing "Dogma," and apparently had some success.

Paula Brick, a Christian who read McGivern's advertisement, said, "I don't want to get involved in something controversial."

So out of respect for others' feelings, she went to see another movie, "Anywhere But Here."

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