Religion

Sweet Jesus

I hate to kick the important issue of sexual assault awareness out of the top slot, but something else is bugging me today, too.

It seems like even the main stream news had jumped onto this story about a chocolate crucifix that was supposed to go on display at a New York art gallery in time for Easter. The gallery has caved to pressure from Roman Catholic zeolots and cancelled the exhibit. The gallery’s artistic director, Matthew Semler, who has some chutzpah and integrity, has resigned in protest.

For the whole story, see this ABC News story.

For more about the artist, check out his website.

In addition, the UNN Rights Council has adopted a resolution against “religious defamation”. What does that mean? It means, that a bunch of Muslims are still upset about the cartoons of Mohammed that were published in Danish newspapers months and months ago. And because they were offended by them, they want to censor the rest of the world. The resolution was opposed by European and a number of other non-Muslim countries who said the resolution is incompatible with fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and thought.

For more info, check out the story on NoGodBlog.com.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s high time for us all to start speaking out more and more against fundamentalism and the religious dogma that leads to hate and bigotry. We can’t let these people continue to bully the rest of the world just because we don’t believe in their holy books or invisible gods. We can’t let them spread censorship in the name of god. We can’t let them continue to make it unacceptable to criticize the acts of religious organizations or individuals while they hide behind god’s skirt.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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42 Comments

  1. I'm all for a ban on religious defamation — I'm sick and tired of religious people defaming others day in and day out. And getting air time to do it: the nutjobs Bill Donohue and Pat Robertson are two out of many examples. Others are high up in our armed forces, like Lt. Gen. Boykin. These people shouldn't be allowed to go around defaming others.

    Huh? You mean these nutjobs aren't what the resolution is talking about? Why do they get off slanging me and mine every day of the week?

  2. I don't see why respecting someones icons,idols,

    religious dogmas,poses a problem for any non-believer..

    I believe we all have a liberty to chose faith or not,

    yet also our state provides plenty of avenues for someone

    that doesn't endorse god/gods,to simply turn the TV channel.

    I see no emanate danger in western religion

    It's also a waste of energy defaming any of their gods

    My mother raised me better than that..

    Just some thoughts

  3. One would think that God could take care of Himself and wouldn't need any of our help keeping His name clean.

    On the other hand, after all the truly nasty stuff He's done. . . .

    I think I'm gonna talk to my materials-engineering friends who work with 3D printers, injection molding and whatnot. Maybe we can start a line of bite-sized Jesus candy morsels. "Jeshua chocolatebar Joseph," as somebody said on Pharyngula the other day.

    Let Jesus melt in your mouth, not in a museum!

  4. Anyone else read that and immediately start singing "Chocolate Jesus" by Tom Waits?

    "Well I don't want no Anna Zabba

    Don't want no Almond Joy

    There ain't nothing better

    Suitable for this boy

    Well it's the only thing

    That can pick me up

    Better than a cup of gold

    See only a chocolate Jesus

    Can satisfy my soul"

  5. I think the Church is getting a bum rap on this. I mean, there are just so many ways this exhibit could go wrong! First, being an anatomically complete confectionary Messiah, well, let me put it this way: Mister Owl. Second, there's the ever-present danger of some fringe group maneuvering a vat of peanut butter into position beneath our Lord and Savior….

  6. Van Helsing. Yet believers rarely, if ever, accord us the respect they demand for themselves and their idiocy. You only have to listen to how believers of all ilk routinely defame any who don't for one reason or another conform to their viewpoint or standards.

  7. Noble Caboose,

    I haven't heard that song. I did start humming "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode, though. ;)

    I heard about this story elsewhere but hadn't seen the sculpture 'til now. It's an amazing work of art, especially considering the medium. Though I don't think it looks like any Jesus I've ever seen.

    But yeah, I've been absolutely disgusted for decades with the way the media and governing bodies cave in to pressure from self proclaimed representatives of religion. It quite literally nauseates me. I think the number of us skeptics is growing too slowly, while the number of those who refuse to listen to reason is (still) growing at a runaway pace. I fear our battle is hopeless, their strangle hold too firm.

  8. "One would think that God could take care of Himself

    and wouldn’t need any of our help keeping His name clean."

    One would think this is a PR issue,involving children

    who don't understand,standing up for ones beliefs,

    doesn't include mocking others..

    I would love to see a chocolate Allah, anyone?

    "Yet believers rarely, if ever, accord us the respect they

    demand for themselves and their idiocy"

    John,that's absolutely not the story here,and we don't live in 1812 either.

    Respect is demanded by our society's ability to tolerate other,our liberty permitted by our Constitution,to chose (or not) a religion

    This is the fault of are fore founders John,not by anyone one

    persons religion..I don't agree this is idiocy,I believe it's idiocy

    mocking the things in which make America special..

    Imagine how we look to others..

    Just some thoughts

  9. Salman Rushdie talked at the Center for Inquiry about that very topic. The lecture was called »Secular Values, Human Rights, and Islamism«. You can listen to it on the Point of Inquiry podcast of 10/28/2006 or find a transcript here:

    http://cfinyc.org/resources/secular-values-human-

    Van Helsing, it's not about respecting another's religion, but not being allowed to disrespect it. There's a right to free speech, and there isn't a right not to be offended. I mean, you don't have to go around laughing at people who believe Jesus rose from the dead, even if you don't. But you have to be able to talk about religion and religious doctrine.

    What if a Jew would post here and say the topic about whether male circumcision is good or bad offends him because it belittles his religious practice? What about women forced to wear the burqa because if a man sees her skin and her hair at the same time, he'll be overcome with lust – we won't be allowed to say that's stupid?

    You can't force someone to respect someone else. If you're not allowed to talk religion because it may offend its practicioners, you're not respecting that religion. You're simply not allowed to talk about it.

  10. Good morning Berandor,

    I didn't expect I would be berated, for sharing my thoughts.

    I hope you don't think this will make me hesitant again?

    "Van Helsing, it’s not about respecting another’s religion,

    but not being allowed to disrespect it."

    This is exactly the problem here,so I'm forced to take

    the higher ground here(my opinion).I don't agree we have

    the right to be disrespectful,or murder,thieves,or obnoxious..

    If we do,why stop at religion?

    Lets also include funerals,the poor,and the handicapped..

    I would argue than, religion shouldn't be the only thing

    one disrespects..

    Just some thoughts..

  11. 'I don’t agree we have

    the right to be disrespectful,or murder,thieves,or obnoxious'

    You're mixing categories here. We don't have the right to murder or steal, but we certainly DO have the right to be obnoxious and disrespectful.

    Should I respect that idiot Phelps who claims that God hatest fags and disrupts funerals to spread his hate and bigotry?

    Should I respect Catholics who say it's better to spread AIDS than to promote condom use?

    Should I respect parents who refuse to get their daughters vacinnated for HPV, who would rather have their daughers get cancer?

    Should I respect the beliefs of people who fly planes into buildings so they can screw 72 virgins in heaven?

    Should I respect people who think fetuses have souls so it's better for a rape victim to have an unwanted child than for her to have an abortion?

    Should I respect people like James Dobson who claim you need to beat your children (and dogs) from an early age to make them mindlessly obey the father the way the father minlessly obeys the Bible?

    Should I respect those fundamentalists who say Jesus will return when the last tree on the planet is cut down (yes, according to my mother this is actually in the Bible), and so there's no use to try to protect the environment?

    Need I continue?

    Sorry, but this type of garbage thought veiled by religious dogma is NOT getting my respect. And it should not get the respect of any reasonable people.

  12. Van Helsing, just so you know, the rest of the world thinks the catholics are beiong stupid. Remember there's a big difference between tolerance and respect. I tolerate everyone, but respect can be earned and lost. It is not a right. I tolerate someone who thinks god will punish him for using a light switch on saturday the same way I tolerate the guy in the park who thinks he's mary magdeline. I respect neither beleif.

  13. Here's more crap about respecting religion when it should be ridiculed:

    ***

    [In the UK] schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

    It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

    There is also resistance to tackling the 11th century Crusades – where Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem – because lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

    The findings have prompted claims that some schools are using history ‘as a vehicle for promoting political correctness’.

    A school found itself ’strongly challenged by some Christian parents for their treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict-and the history of the state of Israel that did not accord with the teachings of their denomination’.

    ***

    from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/ne

  14. We're called heathens for a reason.

    Van Helsing: as a Native American survivor of Catholic attempts to obliterate my kind…I just cannot sit idly by and remain silent about general fundamentalist idiocy. It slips into the realm of genocide and murder far too often. Your kind have abused their privilege far too often. You will just have to accept that others lack an all-encompassing respect for your beliefs. Join the club.

  15. writerdd: That should be “God hateth fags.” “Hatest” is for second person singular, as in “Let not thou hatest fags.”

    Hhahah. I meant to just type "hates".

  16. I don’t see why respecting someones icons,idols,

    religious dogmas,poses a problem for any non-believer..

    I believe we all have a liberty to chose faith or not,

    yet also our state provides plenty of avenues for someone

    that doesn’t endorse god/gods,to simply turn the TV channel.

    I see no emanate danger in western religion

    No danger? — just foreign policy and nuclear weapons in the hands of people who look forward to the destruction of the earth and most of its peoples. No problem there.

    The rest is asking for special privileges for the religious, as can be seen when you actually turn off the TV and look around you.

  17. "We don’t have the right to murder or steal, but we certainly

    DO have the right to be obnoxious and disrespectful."

    Dear writerdd,I believe you're confusing ability and civil rights.

    We do have the ability to be obnoxious and disrespectful,however

    nowhere in the bill of rights will say that.it's your ability to be

    obnoxious and disrespectful.

    I'm not shocked to learn you rather embrace this behavior,

    I just find my time better spent doing more important things..

    "Need I continue?"

    Actually writerdd, you made some very mute points

    unrealistic toward the actually topic

    i.e."Should I respect people who think fetuses have souls so it’s better

    for a rape victim to have an unwanted child than for her to have an

    abortion?"

    So in other words:it's okay to mock a Messiah because

    people (men)rape women,and we should be okay to kill,

    as long as it's out of revenge.

    Actually God prohibits sex before Marriage,So how do you

    make a point?Are laws today protect the women not the fetus

    so again,where's your point?

    "Should I respect parents who refuse to get their daughters

    vacinnated for HPV, who would rather have their daughers

    get cancer?"

    That is an absolute lie,and YOU out to be ashamed,

    for "spinning" such non-sense.

    The issue involves a pill which has never been long-term tested

    our children(pre-teens) would be exposed to,while their young

    bodies are still developing..

    So Yeah,lets trust Merck with our kids,

    not like they never killed anyone!

    There's also the coast passed to the tax payer to implement this

    plan into effect.So guess what writerdd,our money,our children,

    should include our vote!

    And who do you think pays,for the people who don't.

    Should I protect your kid from cancer,because she wonts

    to have sex?

    Again,where's the point you're making?

    I could go further,but I really have other things to do

  18. "We do have the ability to be obnoxious and disrespectful,however

    nowhere in the bill of rights will say that."

    Actually, obnoxious and disrespectful speech is protected in the US under the 1st amendment.

    Thankfully, too. Comedy would be a dead art if it weren't!

  19. Van Helsing, I agree with you when you write:

    "If we do,why stop at religion?

    Lets also include funerals,the poor,and the handicapped..

    I would argue than, religion shouldn’t be the only thing

    one disrespects.."

    In case you don't know, but being disrespectful at funerals, towards the poor, or the handicapped isn't forbidden by law. Being disrespectful is not the same as discriminating against someone. And this is not about going out to a church meeting and throwing popcorn at them. It's about not being outlawed when you voice your opinion – no matter whether your opinion is correct or not. That's what debates are for, not courts of law.

    That's the price you (and I, for that matter) pay for enjoying the benefits of a free society. If someone hollers a »fatass« at me, then I'll have to tough it out. But if I begin a new strain of buddhism that strives for a Buddha-esque physique, then that's supposed to be outlawed?

    No. Clearly not.

  20. writerdd: I guessed that's what you meant, but I couldn't help myself. Perhaps I should have added a smiley or something instead of the obviously bad grammar of my last example to show that I wasn't serious.

  21. One thing to note re. Holocaust denial – it's not a Muslim/religious belief. More of a stupid secular stupid belief which religious bigots sometimes take up…

    Anyway, you're lucky in the US to have a constitutional right to freedom of speech. Here in the UK we still have blasphemy laws (albeit slightly comical ones – I think the last couple of times people tried, and failed, to use them were to ban Jerry Springer the Opera and Cradle of Filth T Shirts)

    If we're going to have the right to take the p*** out of ancient traditions like trepanation and morris dancing, why should beliefs which involve supernatural beings be exempt from defamation. Now, where did I put my 'Jesus is a C***'' T-shirt…

  22. the artist is making a very valid point.

    Easter is commercialized. It's a valid point that I would expect even a Xian to agree with. His point is that this most religious of the holidays (no it's not Christmas) has been trivialized with Bunnies, gifts, tv cartoon specials, and not much mention of Jesus. jesus has been turned into nothing more than a giant chocolate bunny. I personally would have put bunny ears on the chocolate Jesus, with a bite taken out of them. (I'm an artist, and I'm just angry I didn't think of the chocolate Jesus first. though mine would have had bunny ears!)

    It reminds me of when John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. He didn't mean HE thought they were bigger than Jesus, it was a commentary about what people thnk is important, and how shallow that is.

    Chocolate Jesus says the holiday is more important than the man.

    It's not anti Xian any more than John Lennons comments were anti Jesus. But both have lead to controversy. Burning of albums and burning up the airwaves with anger at something they haven't taken the time to understand.

  23. A chocolate covered Merry,holding the baby Jesus,

    would've made the same point,yet subtle kittynh

    The "Shock and Owe" stems from a life size display

    of a Nude crucification,of a beloved figure in Western

    culture.

    Hanging Confederate flags on Patriot day,would stir the same

    type of controversy,yet is an example of the same type of

    disrespect and just plain lack of decency..

    1)Jesus was never depicted nude

    2)Never illustrated as a smiling chocolate dead guy

    3)the reports have all expressed,it was also anatomically incorrect

    So I wouldn't necessarily conclude our prankster is actually

    an artist,because he/she isolated a religious icon,

    and defame it. (very easy)

    I personally like hanging dead cats on church grounds.

    but even if you have the ability to do this,it doesn't make it right!

    V

  24. Actually, this artist is a self proclaimed Catholic-Christian according to an article that I read. So that makes the whole whoopla even more ironic.

    I do know King James English as I grew up reading the KJV Bible and have read it many times in it's entirety, also in several other translations.

    I'm not even going to bother to answer the snotty comments from apparent believers because I don't post on this blog to argue with fundies and other religious followers. I post on this blog to talk to other skeptics and unbelievers.

  25. I don't really understand the offense caused by Jesus being anatomically correct… Christians believe he was fully man as well as fully human, right? Ergo, shouldn't have all of the proper male organs? Wouldn't it be more offensive to imply that he didn't?

    I guess it's the nude depiction that is the problem… but I don't see why that is either. Michelangelo's David is nude, for instance, as is a vast number of religious and non-religious art from that time. That's not meant to be demeaning or shameful, but rather a celebration of the human being's natural form.

    There's also a huge amount of paintings depicting Mary breast-feeding Jesus as a baby. Mary's also (partially) nude and anatomically correct. And, hell, Jesus is SUCKING ON A BOOB. But that's not offensive. Because it represents the nurturing of Mary and emphasizes Jesus' human nature which is what allowed him to atone for our sins in the first place, according to the Christians.

    So why can't we do the same for a naked Jesus and look at the meaning and intention of the artist, and the representations and symbolism that may be involved instead of just going "aaahh! Jesus is naked!"

    Maybe I'm going about this all wrong. Maybe they're just afraid that all of us lustful, wanton, evil females will get turned on by any anatomically correct depiction of a male, regardless of whether or not it's the Lord. Or worse, that the MEN will. Although in my opinion, if someone gets turned on by a dying man in a great deal of suffering, they have bigger problems to worry about than blasphemy.

  26. I agree with kittynh's comments, and many Christians have had this knee-jerk-jump-on-the-bandwagon reaction without thinking much about it. I doubt that if the artist had put a loincloth on Chocolate Jesus that Donohue would have complained any less. Now they're complaining about the Obama as Jesus statue. I've gotten pretty snarky with the conservative Christians whining because they wait for these high-profile "Assault On Christians!" news items when satirical/mocking/provocative images of Jesus abound and have for a long time. I'm embarrassed for their whining, and worse, two conservatives I know think outright mocking of religious images should be disallowed! One person made a comparison to putting up a statue in public of a black person:

    What if I (as an "artist") created a huge statue of a naked black-man and stood it in the middle of a public square with a sign around it's neck reading "Stupid N****r."

    How do you think that would fly?? Case closed.

    That would be an equivalent, in his mind. Now, how someone makes an equivalent of a chocolate statue that leaves it's meaning to the viewer to one with a blatant rascist word on a sign is a bit of a stretch. Of course, Christians have the right to complain, but to want to outlaw is another story.

    There's a lot of art I don't particularly like or I find disturbing – there's one piece in the Museum of Fine Arts with dead goat bits on it, but I shrug and move on. The message was clear, and it effectively disturbed me, and so on. One could argue whether Choco Jesus is art or simply satire, but then "what is art" is constantly debated. And then to others who say this was just outright in-your-face mocking during Holy Week…well, as Kellebelle said, then we might as well get rid of comedy. Either way, those who say this is part of the ongoing persecution of Christians need a head-check.

    A progressive religious person (I only perused his blog) has a nice collection of Jesus images. These are among thousands. Makes you wonder what the fuss is over.

  27. Van Helsing. Respect has to be earned and far too many xtians, and believers of other faiths as well come to that, make that nye on impossible with their demand to use their beliefs as a basis to control the lives of all, even non believers. Additionally, believers routinely disrespect, and worse, those who disagree with them or their teachings and consider it justified, based on the teachings of their faith. Just look at how many believers of different faiths routinely refer to homosexuals as one example, quoting their holy books as justification.

    By the way I am not American and don't live in the US but sadly, even in the UK we have our share of problems with believers trying to gain political influence over how we live. If they kept their beliefs as a personal issue I would leave them to their idiocy, until then I will take them to task every time they try to use their magic book to control how me and mine live our lives. I might tolerate idiocy but I will never respect it.

  28. Dear John,

    "Believers"did nothing here I found offensive,"you can't excuse bad behavior,by pointing out other bad behavior".Two wrongs wont

    make a right.

    If I'm not mistaking,some have said,"it's our right to be disrespectful",

    so I'm perplexed to find you advocating that "Believers" somehow precipitated this attack.

    It's "their icon",wouldn't you expect them to voice an opinion?

    "By the way I am not American and don’t live in the US but sadly,

    even in the UK we have our share of problems with believers trying

    to gain political influence over how we live."

    I don't think that's the problem here,I don't see the

    President or Hilliary Clinton,beating head up over this.

    I think it's just some college prankster,looking to create a buzz

    (skeptically thinking)

    What better way,than to take cheap shots at CHRISTIANS,

    it's not like they'll cut anyones head-off..

    Artist you say?

    I say coward!

    Just some thoughts,V..

  29. > Have people seen this –


    > In terms of religion that deserves defamation…

    Oh man, what a crazy bunch of people. I feel really sorry for the children. This documentary almost warrants a blog post of its own.

  30. Chandler. The repeat of the complete program finishedy about half an hour ago on BBC2. Like you, I felt a great deal of sadness for their children. It was interesting to see how she could twist everything to support whatever she was propounding at the time and 'gramp' was a rather ugly, hateful, angry figure. It seems like a twisted xtian cult built on hate for anyone who doesn't agree with them, especially gays. All they seemed to be teaching their children was how to intensify the hate others would end up feeling for them. I find it hard to consider it anything but a form of child abuse.

  31. But is it necessary to make chocolate crucifixes to begin a conversation about these topics? It seems like people take the easy, inflammatory route every time just to join the opposite end of the sensationalist spectrum. Neither of which change anything, only make people resent the other side more.

  32. Did I mention the creator of the chocolate crucifix is a Christian? There are all kinds of ridiculous folk art circus attractions created by Christians in the United States. I even have a whole book on the topic of bizzarro evangelical/fundamentalist art and entertainment sites in the US. If I can find it, I'll post the title.

    I agree with the posters who think people got offended about this one because the effigy has a penis. Jesus apparently didn't have one. (I'm quite sure the Romans would not have bothered with the nicety of a loincloth to preserve the modesty of the criminals they were torturing with crucifixion!)

  33. Van Helsing said:

    "I believe we all have a liberty to chose faith or not,

    yet also our state provides plenty of avenues for someone

    that doesn’t endorse god/gods,to simply turn the TV channel."

    Turn the TV channel? My ability to choose faith or not is stomped on every time somebody makes religious ideals into laws that affect me, my body, and my ability to pursue happiness. Separation. of. state. and. church.

    And, with all due respect, your grammar is really difficult to figure out. I'm not picking on you just to do so, but I have trouble understanding a lot of what you are trying to say due to all the misspellings, misuse of words, and random structural errors. If English isn't your first language and you're doing the best you can, I understand – but if you are able to, could you please do a little more proof-reading and editing of your comments before posting?

  34. , the artist (whether you think he is a good artist or not – you can peruse his website), said it wasn't intended to offend in the way some folks are reacting to it. It's in the same tenor as some of his previous works. Now, as a result of all the publicity he's getting lots of offers regarding Chocolate Jesus.

    But is it necessary to make chocolate crucifixes to begin a conversation about these topics? It seems like people take the easy, inflammatory route every time just to join the opposite end of the sensationalist spectrum. Neither of which change anything, only make people resent the other side more.

    Let's be clear about something: this was in a gallery in a hotel in New York City. Most people wouldn't have even known about it if Donohue hadn't gone on TV about it and it became so publicized. Most people who go to galleries have some understanding of art and know to expect the unexpected, provocative, controversial or what have you (nothing new in the art world – controversy goes back hundreds of years!).

    The well-known "Piss in Christ" display was actually "approved" by a nun who felt that Christ was being trivialized by religious people, so not everyone is easily offended. So, is it necessary? Should he have just written words? Like Rushdie? Or a one-block cartoon in the editorial pages of a newspaper? Would it have made a difference if he put a loincloth on it? So much can be said in a cartoon or object without rambling exposition. Isn't art supposed to leave the interpretation to the viewer? (Again, what is art has always been debatabhle.)

    BTW, I wouldn't walk into a church wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon Jesus or something snarky, because I'm not like that; if I'm in somebody else's "home" I respect their space and customs (or I don't go there). I also don't go into my parent's church complaining about the disturbing depictions on the mosaics. It's a shame the hotel caved in, but the artist is reaping the benefits as a result.

  35. Leaving aside the religious element, there's all kinds of art that sets out to shock or offend, much of which isn't even technically competent. At least the Chocolate Jesus does look reasonably lifelike.

    Personally, I likely wouldn't go to an exhibition of conceptual art, since from what I've seen, much demonstrates little actual talent or skill, has such limited information content that it could probably be adequately described on the back of a postage stamp, and relies greatly on shock. Going to see it would be a huge waste of time.

    However, if other people want to see it, or pay a small fortune to buy a piece, I wouldn't protest or decide to be offended at that.

    If I had a public forum, I might expound on why I thought it was vacuous or technically incompetent or overpriced, or how I don't understand why anyone would want to see it, but equally, I'd have to bear in mind that other people evidently think differently, if they were going to see it.

    If everyone thought like I did, there'd be no need to push for an exhibition closure. If people think differently, I don't really have any right to ask for an exhibition closure just to be able to impose my views on people who evidently disagree with me.

    If I thought the art could corrupt viewers, but that it would merely offend me, that would indicate I thought I was better than other people.

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