Friday, March 30, 2007

Chocolate Jesus

Why would anyone object to a sculpture of Jesus made out of chocolate? In order to answer that, you have to know something about the bigoted bully Bill Donohue of The Catholic League. (Yes, the same Bill Donohue who launched the campaign against the former John Edwards' bloggers, who both eventually resigned. See the e-mails written to Amanda Marcotte as a result of that scandal. Jesus would not be pleased.)

So, what is Donohue up to this time? Well, apparently an upcoming display of a naked, chocolate Jesus was just too much for him to handle:

Catholic protesters have forced the cancellation of an exhibit in New York showing a naked Jesus sculpted from chocolate.

The sculpture My Sweet Lord, by Cosimo Cavallaro, an artist who grew up in Montreal and Italy, had provoked thousands of protests by Catholics, including Cardinal Edward Egan.

The display was shut down by the hotel that houses the Lab Gallery in midtown Manhattan, which planned to exhibit My Sweet Lord starting next Monday, the day after Palm Sunday.

Matt Semler, the gallery's creative director, has submitted his resignation over the incident, saying the gallery was being strong-armed by people who haven't seen the show.

"They jumped to conclusions completely contrary to our intentions," he said.

The Catholic League had urged members to boycott the hotel, and the hotel was concerned about security amid the chorus of criticism, Semler said.

The hotel and gallery were flooded with phone calls and e-mails after the League for Religious and Civil Rights, a watchdog group, said the naked sculpture was offensive.

"This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever," said Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League.

No. You know what really is one of the worst assaults on Christianity, Donohue? It's that a bigot like you has a megaphone that you use from your bully pulpit whenever anything offends you personally or when you figure you can garner some free publicity for your over-inflated, self-righteous ego. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Jesus being made out of chocolate and anyone who thinks so obviously has no sense of what art is. Do you honestly think Jesus would have minded?

Here's the so-called "game plan" Donohue has posted on his site (which I will not link to):

“The Roger Smith Hotel is located in the heart of New York City, and it boasts on its website that its Lab Gallery ‘is a high traffic, fast paced’ venue. Indeed it is: the gallery is located on street level, easily accessible to the public. But it is sure bet that in the years to come there will be little in the way of high traffic coming from the Christian community.

“As I’ve said many times before, Lent is the season for non-believers to sow seeds of doubt about Jesus. What’s scheduled to go on at the Roger Smith Hotel, however, is of a different genre: this is hate speech. And choosing Holy Week—the display opens on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday—makes it a direct in-your-face assault on Christians.

A chocolate Jesus is "hate speech"?

How about this example of hate speech, Donohue, which you wrote?

“All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don’t react the way extremist Muslims do when they’re offended—otherwise they may have more than their heads cut off. James Knowles, President and CEO of the Roger Smith Hotel (interestingly, he also calls himself Artist-in-Residence), should be especially grateful. And if he tries to spin this as reverential, then he should substitute Muhammad for Jesus and display him during Ramadan.

I'd say that's a direct threat. No wonder the gallery's creative director has resigned. Let's hope he has police protection. Donohue also shows his complete ignorance about the taboo in Islam that does not allow for depictions of Mohammed. How he can even equate that to public depictions of Jesus, which are allowed in Christianity, just shows how bigoted and intolerant he really is.

And when Donohue received word that the exhibition had been cancelled, this was his response:

“While we are delighted with the outcome, we are not pleased with the comments of the gallery’s creative director, Matt Semler. For him to say that our objection to this outrageous display constitutes hate speech and is the equivalent of a fatwa shows how deliriously irresponsible this man is.

“Because we did not like the way the Roger Smith Hotel handled the decision to drop the display, we have no intention of contacting the 500 organizations that we alerted to this assault on Christian sensibilities to inform them that the exhibition has been cancelled.”

Now certainly Jesus wasn't a pompous nutbar. Why would anyone in their right mind actually listen to a word this self-proclaimed, irrational disciple of his has to say? That's what I want to know.

People like Donohue are dangerous. Others know it and, unfortunately, have to protect themselves - just as the Edwards' bloggers did. This man knows no boundaries. He wants power for the sake of power and, although I gave up being a Christian some 30 years (and don't even believe that Jesus existed), I had enough schooling in the Bible and Christianity to know that this man's crusades are the antithesis of what Jesus stood for. It's long past time for Christian extremists who have hijacked their religion for their own selfish purposes like Donohue to be called to account.

Chocolate Jesus is no more a threat than an oil paint or marble depiction. Why is that so difficult to understand?

No doubt, Donohue would have tried to have Michelangelo excommunicated or worse if he'd been around at the time.

Michelangelo's Rondanini Pieta

Chocolate Jesus photo credit: AP

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