Intolerance Rules at VA Museum of Contemporary Art

rosies tea partyCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

There’s more than one way to persecute a Christian and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is displaying a prime example of how it’s done in the West by featuring a painting laced with blasphemous references to the Eucharist, the Mass and Jesus Christ.

The Lepanto Institute is reporting on the outrageous piece of art, which will hang in the museum from May 22 through December 31 as part of an exhibit on contemporary art.

The painting, created by Mark Ryden and entitled “Rosie’s Tea Party,” features a little girl in a communion dress with a crucifix around her neck who is sawing into a ham that bears the inscription, “Mystici Corpis Christi” (Latin for Mystical Body of Christ). On the table next to her is a bottle of red wine bearing an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To the right of the bottle is a bunny with red eyes pouring a red liquid into a tea cup with the words “Sanguis Christi” (Latin for Blood of Christ) written on the saucer.

“The offensive nature of this painting is clear on several levels. It mocks the Sacrament of Holy Communion, it mocks the Catholic belief in transubstantiation, and in fact, it mocks the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” writes Michael Hitchborn.

His feelings are shared by Ben Loyola, a member of the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission, who was outraged when he saw the painting.

“This is very anti-Christian and anti-Catholic. I was shocked to see this,” Loyola told

Because the show may also feature portraits depicting nudes in various positions, Loyola has called upon Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle to investigate the show to determine if anything considered obscene or pornographic will be put on display.

Of course, Ryden defended his work. “I am really not poking fun at religion. I am just looking at it in different ways,” Ryden said. “Someone ought to poke fun at those Christians, though.”

Not that this is Ryden’s first offense. He also created a portrait depicting Jesus Christ as a dog. Another one of his masterpieces, entitled “Dead Characters”, features Jesus in a boat with discarded company mascots such as Speedy, the original mascot for McDonald’s, and Big Boy from Big Boy Restaurants.

MOCAIn response to the controversy, MOCA Executive Director Debi Gray resorted to the typical “progressive” talking points to accuse Loyola – and anyone else who objects to her use of art as a way to promote intolerance – of censorship.

“Art is intended to be controversial. To some degree it’s intended to spark dialog, and I am delighted it has fulfilled our mission,” Gray says.

Her remark fell flat with Bill Donohue of the Catholic League who called her bluff by challenging her to erect a different kind of portrait during the upcoming exhibit.

“Why not substitute a young Muslim girl in a hijab, wearing a machete around her neck, cutting a piece of ham with the words, ‘Allahu Akbar’ inscribed on it. In place of Jesus in the wine bottle, display a picture of Muhammad. And yes, please keep the blood. When Muslims complain, tell them that ‘Art is intended to be controversial,’ and ‘Someone ought to poke fun at those Muslims anyway.’ Please be sure to let me know the outcome.”

Of course, they’ll never do this because they’re too afraid of being fire-bombed.

Remember, these “progressive” sorts aren’t known for their intellectual honesty. That’s why they so frequently resort to schoolyard bullying tactics to get their way. You know, the “open your bathrooms to all genders or lose your funding” and “don’t donate money to traditional marriage supporters or we’ll publish your address on the internet” type of tactics that don’t require much in the way of intelligent dialogue.

Why not let Ms. Gray know that you’re not fooled by her rhetoric. Intolerance is intolerance no matter what politically correct-sounding label you slap over it.


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