By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pressure from the public has resulted in the removal of an offensive film from an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery that shows large ants eating a statue of Jesus on a cross.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is reporting that the curators of a graphic Smithsonian exhibit that celebrates homosexuality have decided to remove the offensive film after being besieged with complaints.
The exhibit, entitled “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” which is lauded as being the first major exhibition examining the influence of gay and lesbian artists in modern American portraiture, features portraits and films that contain graphic images of male genitalia, naked men kissing, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and other “homoerotic” portraits.
The ant-ridden image of Christ on a cross was contained in a video entitled “A Fire in My Belly” which was produced by a man who died of AIDS in 1992 and confessed to daydreaming about shooting darts tipped with the AIDS virus into the necks of politicians.
Public complaints and a letter from the Catholic League to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees requesting them to reconsider funding the Smithsonian Institution was enough to convince curators that at least this part of the exhibit must go.
“Our immediate concerns have been relieved, though it is a sad commentary on the judgment exercised by Smithsonian officials that it took a pressure group like the Catholic League to send them a wake-up call,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue. “Quite frankly, had common decency prevailed from the beginning, they would never have insulted Christians with this vile display.”
However, the larger issue is still on the table, he says. “Why should the federal government underwrite an institution that uses money to bash Christians, when it is unconstitutional for the federal government to underwrite the promotion of it? That is why the letter I sent today to the members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees stands—they need to reconsider the propriety of funding the Smithsonian Institution.”
He adds: “One more thing. To say that it was the artist’s intention to show the suffering of AIDS victims—and not to offend Christians—is unpersuasive. Let them next invite an artist to put their bugs on an image of Muhammad and then explain to Muslims that they never meant to offend them.”
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