Film on Mother Teresa draws group of protesters outside Museum of Art Movie is one in series sponsored by Hopkins

June 13, 1996|By A SUN STAFF WRITER

More than 25 protesters gathered outside the Baltimore Museum of Art last night to warn the public about a man they call a bigot and what they call his 25-minute film of hate.

"We are here to say: Stop the hate," said Clare McGrath-Merkle of Baltimore, her hair and clothing damp from yesterday's storm. "This is not what America is about and this is not what good journalism is about," said Merkle, a high school teacher.

The source of the protesters' anger is a film titled "Hell's Angel: Mother Teresa of Calcutta," that is being shown as part of a five-week long film series "Believers: The Impact of Religious Fundamentalism" that is being held on Wednesdays this month and July 3. The series examines a variety of religious viewpoints, including that of the 85-year-old Albanian nun who has spent 45 years ministering to the poor and sickly.

The film is written and narrated by English journalist Christopher Hitchens.

"I wish protesters would at least hear out the argument that they are protesting," said Mark Crispin Miller, a Johns Hopkins University English professor and one of the organizers of the film series. Miller said the series seeks to question the nature of religious beliefs that are often deemed "God-given and beyond question."

Miller said that Hitchens' film argues that although Mother Teresa is charitable, she expresses extremist and potentially intolerant views, especially with regard to the Catholic church's positions on abortion, birth control and sex.

Though Hopkins also has been criticized for co-sponsoring the series with the Baltimore Museum of Art, university spokesman Dennis O'Shea said it is Hopkins' duty to provide a place where people can discuss divergent views.

"The university would no more endorse the series' message than it endorses the words in a history book or an economics book. It's not for the university to do that," O'Shea said. "The university should be a place open to discussion on important issues."

And it seems as though others agreed. Last night's showing was sold out.

Pub Date: 6/13/96

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