A bar in Fells Point, Maryland, is under fire as Catholics are claiming that the local business is mocking the church. But the owners of the establishment, Ale Mary's, are defending themselves and dismissing the allegations that put it at the center of a religiously-based protest.
The business' name, which is a play on the "Hail Mary," a prayer devoted to Jesus Christ's mother, is one of the main points of contention. But inside the bar, there are also religious relics and jokes that don't seem to sit well with believers. From a holy water dish-turned-candy dish to a bobble-head Jesus, there's plenty of religious imagery to go around. The Baltimore Sun has more:
They decorate with photos of nuns. They post their draft list on a hymn board. They offer Father Luies Grilled Wings and Father Tom's Fried Ice Cream Sundae. And, possibly their most serious transgression according to the group: the bar's "chalice" club where people can get their beer served in a chalice.
One of the bar's owners, Tom Rivers, appeared in an interview with WBFF-TV, where he claimed that the name of Ale Mary's was inspired by his wife and sister-in-law, not by the Catholic Church.
"My wife is named Mary, my brother who is my partner -- his wife was named Mary -- we were brought up in a Catholic house -- church -- it just seemed to fit," he explained. "It was cool."
But local Catholics aren't amused, nor are then accepting these explanations. Individuals opposed to the bar's tactics and theme have launched a Facebook page called "500,000 Against Ale Mary's." The group explains the intentions behind the protest:
This group has been formed to protest, and make known, the deeply offensive and blasphemous use of sacred objects used in the Catholic Church in Her most profound rituals and liturgies by the bar Ale Mary. In this establishment Chalices that contain the precious blood of Christ are being used as common drinking cups, and a Monstrance that is to be used to display the Sacred body of Christ for adoration is being used as a kitch decoration sitting on a bar where patrons while their time over drinks. A holy water font is also used as a simple candy dish.
So far, the movement has 761 members.
Rivers dismisses critics and says that the campaign against the bar has actually been a positive force for him and his family.
"It's all in fun and it's not like we're out picking these things up. Our customers are bringing these things to us," he explained. "It's great publicity. I wish I would have thought of this myself."