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Targeting Obama at the Church Festival

 |  NCR Today

The parish Big Time summer fundraiser in Roseto, PA, last month featured a new game: pay $5 and shoot a likeness of President Obama with six foam darts from eight feet away. Hit targets on the head and heart and win a stuffed animal.

The new attraction was called Alien Attack and invited contestants to fire away at a tall black man who wore a Presidential Seal belt buckle and who grasped a "Health Bill" in his right hand. It was one of the attractions offered by Goodtime Amusements of Hellertown, PA, a carnival which has been hired by the parish for the past 26 years to pull in most of the cash.

The Big Time assasination game sparked only a handful of complaints over four days. According to the local newspaper, the Express-Times, a priest at the rectory of Our Lady of Carmel told one critic he was totally unaware of the game and referred the critic to the pastor. The pastor, the Rev. James Prior, told the paper he knew nothing about it until a parishioner questioned it after the Big Time was over. If he had knowh, he said he would have put a stop to it, adding, "We're used to this kind of bigotry and prejudice and we abhor it, but it's the way of the world. Even the divine father himself is vilified.

The pastor described the carnival owner, Irving L. Good, Jr.,to the paper as a "very decent man, a very honorable man, a moral man" who would be welcome at future festivals.

Good first denied that the likeness was Obama but later issued an apology.

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The Alien Attack game became an issue only after a family attending the festival from Massachusetts brought it to the attention of the Express-Times after the event was over. In an editorial, the newspaper disapproved of the game but also defended it as "a constitutionally protected form of speech."

It was the 117th annual festival for the parish founded mostly by Italian immigrants who worked in the surrounding Slate Belt. Roseto remains a small, tight-knit community.

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December 5-18, 2014

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