San Francisco (US), Feb.17 (ANI): Attempts by a novelty shop in the Noe Valley neighbourhood to sell greeting cards and candles featuring the halo-adorned head of President Barack Obama, has led Reverend Tony La Torre of the St. Philip the Apostle Church to call for a boycott of these items.
The 15-dollar candles feature the president's halo-adorned head plastered onto the crucifix-clutching body of St. Martin de Porres, the Peruvian-born friar regarded as one of the first black saints in the Americas.
"I am appalled that in such a family-oriented neighborhood, any retailer would be so bigoted and so hateful (as) to carry such merchandise just to 'make a buck,' " La Torre declared recently in the parish newsletter.
The owners of the store-Robert Ramsey and David Eiland - said they have sold over 700 candles since putting them on display over the Christmas holiday.
And while the candles are a big hit, Ramsey says they're not much different from the line of gag gifts they've been selling without complaint at the store on upper 24th Street for the past 22 years.
"Believe me, there is a lot of nasty stuff you can sell - you can get it down in the Castro," Ramsey said. "This is just fun stuff."
Besides Hula Hoops, Barbie lunch bags and Valentine heart trinkets, the novelty store stocks such joke religious items as Jesus pencil erasers, "Beware of Nunzilla" wind-up toys and, most recently, the Obama devotional candles.
But to La Torre, the candles featured in a big window display were "the final straw" for a store "that feels the need to mock and ridicule the Catholic/Christian faith."
La Torre also described the store's owners as Jewish, which they were not, and urged parishioners not only to boycott the store but to "be sure to poke your head in ... and tell them why."
The owners have ignored La Torre's offer to meet with them to discuss his concerns, but did post a copy of the priest's newsletter in their store window - right next to the king-size, 2-foot-tall version of the Obama candle that had set him off.
So far, the only effect of the controversy seems to be free advertising and a demand for even more candles. (ANI)