The Next Voice You Hear

Nothing stirs the masses quicker than a controversy involving sex and religion. Think back to Jimmy Bakker and Jessica Hahn and you’ll know what I mean. Those were the days, my friend.

Lacking sex as an element of debate, however, the second most appealing public controversy is any altercation between the church and the media. That’s going on right now.

It began when Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, L.A.'s newest ecclesiastical superstar, denounced television station KCET for deciding to show the controversial documentary, “Stop the Church.”

“STC,” as it is known by some, documents an attack on New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral by gay activists protesting the church’s policy on AIDS and gays.


Cardinal Mahony, feeling spunky over his recent acquisition of a Vatican Red Hat, declared the documentary anti-Catholic and suggested that KCET wasn’t worthy of financial support.

Naturally we’ve jumped right into the middle of the fray because that’s what newspapers do. We’ve had stories in every section but sports, and our reporters have talked to everyone involved in the dispute but God.

Since the debate involves two such powerful and, in their way, religious institutions, I feel someone ought to get that ultimate point of view too.

Fortunately, someone has.


“Hello, God? Al Martinez.”

“Elmer Teenez?”

“No, sir, that’s . . . “

“I Know, I Know. You Slur. I Was Making A Joke. And Don’t Call Me Sir. I’m Not Your C.O. Call Me Herb.”


I’m capitalizing every word because, well, that’s how God speaks. I don’t know why the name Herb. I was afraid to ask.

“I’m glad you have a sense of humor . . . er . . . Herb.”

“In My Business, You’ve Got To Have. How’d You Get My Phone Number?”

“From the ACLU.”


“My Kind Of People.”

“I wondered how you felt about the controversy involving Cardinal Mahony and KCET.”

“Fill Me In, I’ve Been Busy In The Baltics. They’ve Been Thanking Hell Out Of Me Day and Night.”

“To begin with, it hasn’t been a good week for Catholics. First there was the opening of a movie, ‘The Pope Must Die,’ which spoofs the Pontiff. Then KCET aired a documentary Mahony found offensive. He hasn’t exactly declared it a mortal sin to support public television, but he’s come close.”


“So What’s The Fuss? Mahony Is Just Playing Me. That’s How You Get When People Start Kissing Your Ring.”

“What really angered him was a song in ‘STC’ that mocked Catholic rituals. It was a satirical piece by Tom Lehrer called ‘Vatican Rag.’ I’ll sing it to you.

First you get down on your knees,

Fiddle with your rosaries,


Bow your head with great respect

and genuflect, genuflect, genuflect . . .

“I Know The Song. Music Never Hurt Anyone, Except For The Damage Rock Does To The Tympanic Cavity. We Don’t Allow Rock Up Here. Tom Lehrer Is Never Loud. I Like That. He Has My Blessing.”

“Tell me, Herb, what’s your stand on the church’s policy toward gays and AIDS?”


“I’m Not A Pundit. I Don’t Take Stands. Everything Evens Out In My Own Good Time. The Vatican Has Never Been Known For Speed. They’re Still Working On Adam And Eve. Did You Know, By The Way, Adam and Eve Weren’t Their Real Names? They Were Ozzie And Harriet, But We Needed Something More Biblical.”

“You changed their names?”

“You Got It, Elmer.”

“I’ll be damned.”



“One last question. Will anyone be truly hurt by the controversy between Mahony and KCET?”

“Well, The Church Is Going To Appear A Bit Stodgy, But That Can Be Rectified.”



“By Involving Mike Ovitz.”

“You want the church to hire CAA?”

“If Mahony Wants To Elbow Into Show Biz, He Might As Well Have An Agent. He’s Mine Too, You Know. “

“That’s really a unique idea. No wonder you’re God.”


“Thank Coca-Cola. They Hired Ovitz First. What’s Good For Coca-Cola Is Good For The Church. Everyone Needs A Salable Image.”


What a Super Guy.