The artwork in question features Christ Jesus in a variety of sexual poses, including one in which Jesus is engaged in oral sex with another man. In this image, the word “orgasm” appears beside Jesus' head. On display since September 11, it is part of an 82-print exhibit.
According to The Blaze, “The controversial piece is part of a 10-artist exhibit called, 'The Legend of Bud Shark and His Indelible Ink.' The lithograph showing the son of God engaged in a sexual act is called, 'The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals,' and was created by Stanford University professor Enrique Chagoya.”
Protestors demanded that the city council de-fund the museum as a result of the controversy, but the city council has asserted that the image “does not meet the criteria of public obscenity.”
Weasel Zippers reports, “Dozens of protestors gathered at the museum over the weekend to object to Chagoy's work, including Loveland Councilman Daryle Klassen, who failed to get the issue on the council agenda but said he'll keep pressing to have what he has called 'smut' and 'pornography' taken down.”
City council member Donna Rice contends that the artwork is the antithesis of the “family-friendly” atmosphere that the “taxpayer-supporter, public museum” intended. “This is not something the community can be proud of.”
Gallery owner Linda King remarked, “It is visual profanity. It disgraces the God of all creation.”
Loveland Christians proclaim the exhibit to be “taxpayer-funded pornography." “We don't think our Savior should be put in those kind of poses,” remarks resident Steven Gregory. He adds, “I love art, but this isn't art.”
The Catholic League, a national advocacy group, demands a reaction from the governor to the publicly-funded artwork.
“We are writing to Governor Ritter and the Colorado state legislature asking them to justify the use of tax-supported dollars to fund anti-Christian hate speech,” President Bill Donahue wrote in a statement published on the Catholic League's website. “We just want to know how anti-religious programs can be funded with public monies.”
Whether Governor Ritter will prove to be helpful seems unlikely. In July, the governor signed legislation establishing Colorado Creative Industries, which provides grants to various organizations and government agencies. The bill allocated approximately $8,500 to the Loveland Museum.
Jeff Field of the Catholic League adds, “Works like this cannot be publicly funded — and they should not be publicly funded. They always seem to offend Christian sensibilities and it's nobody else. And to have this being on display at the cost of public dollars is an outrage.”
Noting a double-standard applied to Christianity against other religions, Field asked if Chagoya's artwork would be accepted if it depicted the prophet Mohammed in the same poses. “There have been examples in the past of anti-Mohammed artwork. The Muslim community has been outraged — and rightly so — but there [have] also been different actions taken against the artists.”
Field continues, “Christians thankfully don't react in that way, but at the same time, it is offensive. Somebody needs to be held accountable and something needs to be done about such things being publicly funded.”
Despite the public outcry, the artist has attempted to defend his work, allegedly surprised by the public's reaction. “My intentions are not to offend anybody. The main intention of my work is to express my personal concerns about religious institutions, not about the actual religious beliefs, which I respect.”
Loveland painter Edwina Echevarria agreed with Chagoya, stating, “We have to be a country where freedom of expression thrives.”
Nearby Denver residents — known for their liberal leanings, were more receptive to the artwork. Carol Ware called the piece “provocative and thought-provoking.” She added, however, that she would not want the artwork in her own living room.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Times weighed in on the debate, celebrating Chagoya's controversial techniques and labeling him a respected artist. Among the provocative works of art he has created are pieces attacking President George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, and former California Governor Pete Wilson.
Chagoya's piece is just one of many anti-Christian works of art created in the last decade.
In July of this year, in fact, the Sacramento County (California) Public Law Library came under fire for hosting an art exhibit with anti-Christian artwork. One painting in particular depicted the Bible with a warning label that read, “Warning: May Impair Judgment.”
In 2009, Harvard hosted an anti-Christian art show, which was funded by President Obama's Safe Schools Czar. One of the pieces equated Catholic bishops to used condoms.
More than a decade ago, a major controversy was sparked when a publicly-funded New York City museum featured a painting of a “dung-covered” Virgin Mary, prompting New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to announce that the city would cut off funding to the Brooklyn Art Museum unless it canceled the exhibit. Unfortunately, the museum went to court against the city of New York, resulting in a settlement allocating money to the museum and an additional $5.8 million in capital funding.
Such artwork is not limited to the United States, either. Sicilian artist Giuseppe Veneziano has drawn the ire of the Catholic Church on more than one occasion for his depictions of the Virgin Mary. One in particular, entitled “The Madonna of the Third Reich," shows Mary with baby Hitler in her arms.
One blogster notes how far removed America is from the days of its founding. “As a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles, American society sure has devolved in the last century or so.”
Noting the progressive influence on the devolving state of America, he adds, “Nowhere is this more apparent than in the efforts of the 'progressives' to not only expunge Judeo-Christian principles and thoughts from society, but to demonize Christianity itself.”
Photo: Loveland Museum Gallery