Religious groups are blasting President Obama for not condemning am anti-Christian art display set to appear in New York City and one Republican lawmaker said he is “fed up with the administration’s double standard and religious hypocrisy.
“Piss Christ,” once branded as a “deplorable, despicable display of vulgarity,” will be displayed at the Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery in Manhattan on Thursday. The artwork features a “photograph of the crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine.”
The artwork debuted in 1989 and was funded through prize money provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. The art gallery hosting the retrospective salute to Andres Serrano is privately owned.
Religious groups and some lawmakers have already started sounding off – and making comparisons to the controversy over a recent anti-Muslim film. The low budget movie “Innocence of Muslims” sparked violent and deadly clashes across the globe.
It also brought strong rebukes, condemnations and apologies from President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a host of administration officials.
The administration tried to have the film removed from YouTube – but Google rebuffed their request. The State Dept. spent $70,000 on a Pakistani television advertisement rebuking the film. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff personally telephoned a Christian minister in Florida to ask him to withdraw his support of the film.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R, C-NY) wants to know why President Obama hasn’t denounced the exhibit and said he’s fed up with what he called the administration’s “religious hypocrisy.”
“The Obama administration’s hypocrisy and utter lack of respect for the religious beliefs of Americans has reached an all-time high,” Grimm told Fox News. “I call on President Obama to stand up for America’s values and beliefs and denounce the ‘Piss Christ’ that has offended Christians at home and abroad.”
So will the Obama Administration condemn the anti-Christian art display? Will they air a television ad denouncing the exhibit? Will the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ask the gallery to cancel the exhibit?
The White House did not return calls seeking comment. Neither did the Pentagon.
The State Dept. referred to a previous statement Clinton made in reference to the anti-Islamic film.
“America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation,” Clinton said. “And as you know, we are home to people of all religions, many of whom came to this country seeking the right to exercise their own religion, including, of course, millions of Muslims. And we have the greatest respect for people of faith.”
Grimm said the lack of response from the White House is unacceptable.
“Perhaps they’ve forgotten the controversy that surrounds this deplorable piece depicting a crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine,” Grimm said. “It outraged Christians in American and throughout the world.”
Grimm, who is Catholic, said he found the artwork to be vulgar and offensive, “just as many in the Islamic world found ‘Innocence of Muslims’ to be highly offensive.”
“Like most Americans, I condemn both yet remain tolerant as the First Amendment demands,” he said. “Unfortunately, this administration has yet to echo these views in regards to the religiously offensive ‘art’ here at home.”
And the congressman isn’t the only one demanding a response from the White House.
“I would like to find out what my government is going to say about this,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. “We have the United States government making apologies and some very critical statements about the abuse of freedom of speech because it might offend Muslims.”
Donohue said the Obama administration seems to have a double standard when it comes to incidents that might offend the Christian community.
“It seems like we have a protected class for Muslims as well as some other segments of our population,” he told Fox News. “But when it comes to Christians, it’s an all-out war.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the two incidents show a clear contrast between Islam and Christianity.
“You won’t have to worry about a mob of people storming the gallery after Sunday school lets out,” Perkins told Fox News. “Christ has been the subject of attacks for 2,000 years – as have his followers. As Christians, we have learned to turn the other cheek.”
Perkins said the lack of response from the White House over the “Piss Christ” display provide an unintentional recognition.
“It’s a recognition of the contrast between Christianity and Islam,” he said. “You don’t have to plead with Christians not to riot and burn and storm buildings simply because they are offended. That’s the difference. That’s why Christianity moves nations forward and Islam moves nations backwards.”
As for the display – Perkins said it’s being held in a private gallery – without taxpayer funding.
“They have their freedom to do what’s wrong,” he said. “That’s what’s great about America.”
But Donohue said he may very well be outside the gallery on Thursday – and he questions the timing of the exhibit.
“The timing is not a mistake,” he said. “The obvious reason is not because it’s something new – it’s the idea of throwing more salt of Christians. This is a pattern that’s calculated, it’s deliberate and it’s time the elites spoke out on this.”