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Museum Defends Exhibit Deemed “Sacrilegious”

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A taxpayer-funded Brooklyn museum that once featured an art exhibit depicting Mary incorporated in elephant dung, is defending its plan to host a major gay-themed art exhibit that includes a film depicting ants crawling on a crucifix.

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“A Fire in My Belly” is part of a larger collection that explores how gender and sexual identity have shaped American art. The film, by David Wojnarowicz, was pulled from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., after members of Congress expressed outrage and a Catholic advocacy group labeled the art “sacrilegious.”

Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman defended the film telling the Associated Press it was “such an important aspect of American art in the 20th century.”

“My hope is that this will be an extraordinarily important way in which to bring the entire city together to celebrate American art during this last century,” he told the AP.

But many Christians are outraged that a taxpayer-funded museum would display art that  they believe ridicules their faith.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to cut funding from the museum in 1999 after it featured an exhibit that depicted Mary with African features and included clumps of elephant dung and cutouts of female genitalia.

“This is New York City,” Lehman told the AP. “This is a city that has thrived on the incredible contributions from the gay and lesbian community.”

Catholic League President Bill Donohue labeled the museum notoriously anti-Catholic.

According to the taxpayer-funded museum’s website, it has a staff that includes a curator of Islamic art and Feminist Art — but no curators of other religious groups.

With reporting from the Associated Press