Chicago politicians seem to have a funny idea of what constitutes “bigotry”. A few months ago, when the owner of Chick-Fil-A mentioned that he supported traditional marriage, they quickly denounced it as a “hate speech” against gays, even though the owner never mentioned gay people even once. On the other hand, Chicago politicians seemingly have no problem with the actions of Kuma’s Corner on Chicago's northwest side. The restaurant has announced that their October special is a hamburger garnished with communion wafers and red wine. The unique item, called Kuma’s “Ghost burger” (named after a Swedish heavy metal band that dresses as Roman Catholic Cardinals when they perform) is prepared with “Red Wine Reduction (the blood of Christ)” and “Communion Wafer garnish (the body of Christ)”. It is available for the low price of “only” $17.
Considering that the use of communion wafers and red wine together are unique to Christianity, one might wonder why the restaurant would have such a “specialty item” for sale if the intent was not to mock Catholics and the sacrament of Holy Communion. Certainly the restaurant’s description of the item sounds sarcastic as well. On their Facebook page, they claim the Ghost burger is "in the spirit of our undying reverence for the lord and all things holy." The wafers used on the burger have not been consecrated, but they do bear the sign of the cross, undeniably meant to invoke Christianity.
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass is not a Catholic, but he noted the hypocrisy of Chicago politicians when it comes to bigotry against Catholics. He wrote: “City Hall must love burgers. Because there were no news conferences, no speeches, no angry mayoral condemnations about Kuma's 'values.'” Indeed, a case can made that while restaurants can get away with mocking Catholicism, they would suffer grave ramifications if they mocked any other religion. Kass rallied off various examples: Imagine if Kuma's had created “a Muhammad burger, of pork belly and fried pigs' ears. Or a King David burger, of ground pork loin, bacon, cheese and a mandatory milk shake. Or a Buddha carpaccio plate with raw egg, or a secular Obama burger that costs only $17 trillion”. There is little doubt that any of the aforementioned items would immediately result in massive media outcry for their mockery. Yet most politicians and major Chicago media organizations seem to have no problem with a hamburger featuring the “the body and blood of Christ”.
Worse, some Chicago media outfits seem to eagerly embrace Catholic bashing. A blog at ChicagoNow (part of the Tribune media group) published a parody “news story” with a fictitious interview with “Pope Francis.” In the article, “Pope Francis” said he might like his Ghost burger sent to Rome, “If this Kuma considers lowering the price so that families with kids — good, breeding families with 8-10 kids — can eat there. You know, like McDonalds”
It's difficult to believe that there's no intent to mock Catholicism when ChicagoNow is referring to Roman Catholic mothers with large families as “breeders”. Is this considered “Chicago values” now? If so, it probably won't go over well in a metropolitan area that is home to one of the largest number of Catholics in the United States. Mocking religious traditions and culture is bigotry, no matter you try to spin it.
Kuma's has been quick to assert their “first amendment rights”, but that brings up another interesting difference between the people accusing Chick-Fil-A of “bigotry” and Kuma's practicing actual bigotry. Unlike the Chick-Fil-A critics, nobody is calling for Kuma's Corner to be censored, picketed, shut down, or prevented from expanding. John Kass pointed this out as well: “Yes, bigotry in a cheeseburger is protected by the Constitution. But it's lousy business. And if they picked on a religion other than Christianity, there might be more serious consequences. It wouldn't end with awkward silence. It would be loud and ugly.”
As Catholics, we should defend the right of others to comment on Catholicism, no matter how offensive those comments are. Kuma has every right to sell a burger making fun of Holy Communion, if that is what they choose to do. But with those decisions come consequences. A restaurant that relishes the opportunity to bash Catholics should not have a single practicing Catholic as a customer. I know I will never eat at Kuma's. How about you, my fellow Catholics?