Offensive art denounces religious beliefs

Freedom New Mexico

Christians have rights and they had best assert them regarding a government- funded exhibit, at a Colorado museum, that depicts Jesus receiving oral sex from a man.

No way should Christians have to tolerate this, any more than Muslims should have to tolerate a government-sponsored burning of the Koran.

Nobody, but nobody has suggested government insult that which is sacred to Muslims. Yet, when a private, unknown southern preacher planned to burn Korans on Sept. 11 the result was a plea for respect and civility from the president of the United States, the secretary of state, various other levels of officialdom and most of the media establishment.

Christians should at least expect Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to ask Loveland city officials to remove the offensive painting from their taxpayer-funded wall in the Loveland Museum/Gallery. If they don’t heed this call, Ritter should demand a return of the $8,500 the state gave to the museum in July, and any other money recently given to the museum by the state.

The painting, titled “The Misadventure of the Romantic Cannibals,” is the work of Stanford University art professor Enrique Chagoya. It’s on display through Nov. 28, and some who have seen it say it’s outright pornography.

The multipanel painting is clearly irreverent of Jesus and the Christian faith. One panel features what appears to be the head of the Virgin Mary on a scantily clad cocktail waitress. Another features the head of Jesus on an obese female body, in a one-piece bathing suit, riding a bicycle.

It’s the latest in a series of episodes in which taxpayer dollars have funded the desecration of images sacred to Christians, including the crucifix in urine and Mary spattered with elephant dung.

The value and beauty of art is determined by each individual who encounters it.

Some may love Chagoya’s painting, as others find it sickening. And its right to exist should be defended to the death.

Artists have the right in the United States to create nauseating paintings that are offensive to Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews. The First Amendment protects this right.

But the First Amendment also protects us from government sanctions or denunciations of

religion. Government should not pay for the display of a reverent crucifix, and courthouse administrators have learned they cannot display the Ten Commandments on public property. For the same reason government officials should not sponsor religious reverence, they should not sponsor religious irreverence.

Governments must avoid sanctions or denunciations of religious beliefs. That’s why Mikey Weinstein, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, are correct to concern themselves with military expressions that promote Christianity.

Today, they are rightly opposing a Bible verse that appears on the wall of a dormitory hallway at the Air Force Academy. They are correct to concern themselves with military statements designed to insult or condemn Islam, or any religion.

This country is about religious freedom and tolerance.

Imagine if some artist, seeking the attention that accompanies a shocking image, portrayed Mohammed the way this painting portrays Jesus. Islamic clerics might order his death, as they did against author Salman Rushdie for an irreverent portrayal of Mohammad in his book “The Satanic Verses.”

If the artist insulted Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League would rightly seek redress.

Public employees are out of line sponsoring this painting.

Please take it off of the public’s taxpayer-funded wall.