NewsThu Oct 11, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST
Minneapolis Catholic College Requires Reading of Sexually Explicit Anti-Catholic Novel – A Handmaid’s Tale
By Hilary White
ST. PAUL, Minneapolis, October 11, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic parents of students at a Catholic college in Minneapolis are outraged that their children will be forced to read the sexually explicit and anti-Christian novel, A Handmaid’s Tale by Canadian author and far-left feminist Margaret Atwood. The English Department’s faculty at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minneapolis, has voted to use the book in all sections of freshman English as this year’s “common text”.
Catholic columnist Matt C. Abbott has reported that concerned parents have informed the university of their objections and been ignored. The group has formed to convince the university administration to drop the “sexually offensive” book and reform its English curriculum in favour of more serious literature.
Atwood is known in Canada as a major figure in the ultra-feminist, anti-religious and largely state-funded literary establishment. When it was first published by McClelland and Stewart in 1985, the book was heavily criticized, largely outside Canada, as an anti-Christian screed relying for its appeal on the titillation provided by its frequent expletives and graphically depicted sex-acts, and a heavy-handed feminist ideology.
Despite this, the book remains at the top of charts in literary circles and has received and been nominated for numerous literary awards, including the prestigious Booker Prize. It is featured as part of the high school literature curricula in the UK, the US, Germany and Australia. It has been listed as No.37 on the “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000” by the American Library Association, as parents continue to object to its anti-Christian and sexual content.
The parents’ group, UST Class Action, says the book has no place on the curriculum of a Catholic university. They are seeking not only to have the book removed from the curriculum, but for the university to apologise and review and reform its policy. They accuse the university of deliberately choosing the book for its “anti-Christian/anti-Catholic indoctrination value”.
UST Class Action calls the book “insultingly vulgar, boorish and obscene.” The story of A Handmaid’s Tale revolves around an oppressive right-wing Christian totalitarian state in which women are forbidden to be educated, work, hold property or vote. They are separated, according to their fertility and social status, into three classes: wives, domestic servants and “handmaids” who are used as breeding stock for the ruling class of white Christian men. The story follows the adventures of “Offred” a handmaid who is given as a state benefit to a member of the elite and ritualistically raped to produce a male heir. Handmaids who attempt to resist or escape are publicly excuted as enemies of the state along with abortionists and homosexuals.
UST Class Action says, “Reading and analyzing this book is a profligate waste of the parent’s or student’s money, and a waste of the student’s time. It cheats the students of a truly quality education that includes great Western literature by Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, [and] Chesterton”.
The group wrote to the chairman of the English Department, Andrew Scheiber, on September 4, 2007. They were told that the objections were brought to the attention of Father Dennis Dease, the President of St. Thomas University who “said he would not intervene”. The group is taking their concerns to the university’s Board of Trustees.
Visit the UST Class Action website [Warning: site contains excerpts of book’s graphic content]