The Ant Jesus uproar is a scam

Perhaps you’ve been following the saga of Ant Jesus. I blogged this earlier and have been watching the subsequent kerfuffle when the Smithsonian pulled the video.

The clearest way to understand why Ant Jesus caused such a stir, I’ve concluded, is to forget about issues of iconography, art, and cultural identity. Instead, follow the money.

Consider the annual salary of Catholic League president William Donohue, the man who first took public offense at Ant Jesus:

William Donohue makes seven times as much as the median U.S. household

Now, this figure by itself doesn’t tell us much other than that Mr. Donohue is financially rather comfortable. That’s not unusual. Many leaders of non-profit and religious groups pull handsome salaries.

Maybe the Catholic League is a large organization that requires a highly competent executive. So let’s compare Mr. Donohue’s slice of the pie with that of executives of other non-profits. These bars show executive compensation relative to annual revenue:

Bill Donohue takes a proportionally larger cut from his organization than other non-profits. By a lot. (CEO earnings as a percentage of revenue)

Aha! Do you see that? Do you see how far out of line Donohue’s personal cut is, relative to even the scandal-ridden Boy Scouts?

A look at the Catholic League’s activities reveals it to be primarily a media messaging group. Mr. Donohue spends his time being offended. He takes offense at this, and takes offense at that, ginning up enough controversy to keep the checks rolling in from outraged Catholics. If you’re looking for meaningful cultural issues behind the ant uproar- or any of Mr. Donohue’s other nontroversies- I suspect you’re looking too deeply.

Ant Jesus was just another way to milk the flock, and I can’t believe an institution as distinguished as the Smithsonian caved to such a transparent huckster.

(sources: The Catholic League, Charity Navigator)

17 thoughts on “The Ant Jesus uproar is a scam”

  1. If you get some angry responses from Catholic League “supporters”, you’ll know your dissection has revealed the correct nerve!

    Myrmex-Do we get to be called the “Holy Order of Myrmecists”?

    1. I like that or maybe the order of Saint Francis of the Ants…or Saint Wheeler of the Ants? Or some other suitable figure — should we have a contest and pick one?

  2. That’s some really nice investigative journalism!

    myrmex: L. Ron Hubbard is said to have said

    “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”

    Years later he started Scientology, so it can certainly be done. Good luck!

  3. Look at you kicking ass and taking names and getting all investigative journalisty! It takes guts to speak out when you’re involved with an academia that can smite you. If you write a political blog I will read it!

  4. Reminds me of the day I found out my friends’ dad didn’t believe that dinosaurs exist. I usually let people believe what faith or idea they believe, but the wackos who militantly pretend they live in a by-gone era really need to wake up and realize that this is the 21st century AD.

  5. I hope your data on the Nature Conservancy indicates a reasonable salary for their CEO and not a token salary for a rich figurehead or humongous revenue. I suppose the latter wouldn’t be too bad, but NC is the only organisation on your graph that I have a modicum of faith in – and even that wavers some days.

  6. Bravo for the investigative journalism. Next step: can you find out how many members the Catholic League actually has? A priest friend tells me they’re really quite small, and have little influence within the church itself, which hates them because they sound as if they’re speaking for the institution when they aren’t at all official (too bad the Vatican can’t trademark “Catholic”). It would be further evidence of how Donohue should be ignored if you could show that he represents practically nobody.

    1. You’re right about the Catholic League’s membership: while they like to put on the airs of being this vast national organization, and The Voice Of Outraged Catholicism, their REAL membership numbers (and the sources of their funding) are kept as secret as the Third Revelation of Fatima: for obvious reasons. It must be one of those official Church Mysteries why the media even give this huffy clown any of the attention they do: but it’s likely the actual RCC suffers them because 1) they can’t do much about it, or Bill Donohue and 2) they occasional voice complaints and opinions the “official” Church would find embarrassing.

  7. Thus the reason for so many no longer contributing to the catholic Church. WHere does the rest of the money go – certainly not to feed the hungry or clothe the poor.

    Bill Donohue represents a part of the church that will take our Church to its knees,,,, he uses our church for his own personal and political needs.

  8. It would be a great favor to Catholics and others if you updated your post to note that Donohue’s Catholic League is not officially associated with the Roman Catholic Church.

    The media seem to have a hard time grasping that and without the media making the distinction, others have no way to know that.

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