Davie Bowie’s explicit, star-studded video for the song “The Next Day” off his recent album of the same name has prompted the Catholic League to weigh in with a provocative post describing the veteran rocker as a “switch-hitting, bisexual, senior citizen from London.”
In the post, titled “Bowie’s ‘Jesus’ Video Is A Mess,” Catholic League commenter Bill Donohue lays into Bowie for the new video, in which Bowie plays, in Donohue’s words, “a Jesus-like character who hangs out in a nightclub dump frequented by priests, cardinals and half-naked women.”
“David Bowie is back, but hopefully not for long,” quips Donohue, describing the video as “strewn with characteristic excess”:
…one priest bashes a homeless man, while others are busy hitting on women; self-flagellation is depicted; a dancing gal with bleeding hands makes a stigmata statement; and a customer is served eyeballs on a plate. The lyrics refer to the “priest stiff in hate” and “women dressed as men for the pleasure of that priest.” The song concludes with, “They can work with Satan while they dress with the saints.” In short, the video reflects the artist—it is a mess.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a sort of Roman Catholic lobbyist group that claims it “defends the right of Catholics – lay and clergy alike – to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination,” was founded in 1973 as a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization; Donohue has served as president for two decades. In a 1999 New York Times article, the paper referred to Donohue as conducting “scathing attacks on the blasphemous and the irreverent in movies, magazines and art exhibitions,” suggesting that he “fans … simmering anger with inflammatory news releases” and that he criticizes “everything from Miramax movies to tasteless jokes about nuns.” (TIME’s own Tim Padgett, also Catholic, describes Donohue as “dyspeptic.”)
That might explain why Donohue is targeting Bowie here: Calling the singer “confused about religion,” Donohue goes on to mock Bowie’s comments on atheism (“I’m not quite an atheist, and it worries me,” Bowie told Beliefnet in 2005) before intimating that the musician may in fact be a closet Catholic: “[It's] a sure bet he can’t stop thinking about the Cadillac of all religions, namely Roman Catholicism. There is hope for him yet.”