From the AFP – Christian Post - Telegraph Co UK
Christians voiced anger and dismay Tuesday after a Bible, which was part of an exhibition inviting viewers to add their reflections, was defaced with offensive and foul-mouthed scrawl.
Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art has decided to put the Bible in a glass case after the exhibit, called Untitled 2009 and part of a show entitled Made in God's Image, was vandalized.
Artist Jane Clarke, a minister at the Metropolitan Community Church, asked visitors to annotate the Bible with stories and reflections, as a way of making it more inclusive.
But visitors to the gallery took the invitation a bit further than she had anticipated.
The open Bible is a central part of Made in God’s Image, an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, United Kingdom. By the book is a container of pens and a notice saying: “If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.”
The Times newspaper reported that the publicly funded exhibition ‘Untitled 2009,’ was proposed by the Metropolitan Community Church, which said that the idea was to reclaim the Bible as a sacred text.
But to the horror of many Christians, including the community church, visitors have daubed its pages with comments such as “This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all.” A contributor wrote on the first page of Genesis: “I am Bi, Female & Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this.”
One writer has altered the first line of the Old Testament from “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth” to “In the beginning, God (me) I created religion.”
Another has written “The Gospel According to Luke Skywalker”.
The main sentiment, however, is rage at Christianity. “F*** the Bible”, one message says. And another described the Bible as "the biggest lie in human history" and a third wrote: "Mick Jagger and David Bowie belong in here”
The official Web site of the exhibition stated that the exhibition has been created by the artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone, in with organizations representing gay Christians and Muslims. Mr. Schrag, the gallery’s artist in residence, told the Times that he did not believe in God, but that his research for the 7,000 Euros show had underlined his respect for people of faith.
A video by Roxanne Claxton that forms a second element in the exhibition shows a young woman ripping pages out of the Bible and stuffing them in her knickers and bra and in her mouth in a program to promote equal rights for homosexuals. The film showed “the word as power,” Mr Schrag said. “Roxanne gave a performance where she ate a Bible and it became part of her.”
Some Christians are surprised that Schrag and Malone who have explored faith and sexuality with members of The Metropolitan Community Church, Quest, Al Jannah Muslim Group and individuals from a range of faiths, including members of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow before the event were even permitted by the Church to carry out such exhibition.
However, Jane Clarke, the minister at the Metropolitan Community Church and artist involved in the bible exhibit said, “Writing our names in the margins of a Bible was to show how we have been marginalised by many Christian churches, and also our desire to be included in God’s love. As a young Christian I was encouraged by my church to write my own insights in the margins of the Bible I used for my devotions – this was an extension of that idea.”
“As a young Christian I was encouraged by my church to write my own insights in the margins of the Bible I used for my daily devotions – this was an extension of that idea. I still have that Bible, although it’s rather tatty now,” she clarified her position through the official Web site of the exhibition.
She added, “It was never my intention to offend anyone – believers and non-believers alike. I had hoped that people would show respect for the Bible, for Christianity and indeed for the Gallery of Modern Art. I am saddened that some people have chosen to write offensive messages.”
Ms Clarke has requested changes to the exhibit. The bible remains on display, but within an enclosed case, the official Web site stated.
On another plinth next to it are loose leaf sheets and pens for visitors to write their thoughts and feelings in relation to the bible. Those loose sheets will be inserted within the pages of the bible by curatorial staff each day, the statement stated.
The Church of Scotland said it condemned any sacrilegious act. “We would discourage anyone from defacing the Bible,” a Kirk spokesman told the Times.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “One wonders whether the organizers would have been quite as willing to have the Koran defaced.”
On Tuesday over 100 people gathered outside the gallery to protest at what they said was vandalism, Agence-French Press reported.
Letitia Reid, a housewife from Glasgow, told AFP the Bible should not be desecrated.
“As a Christian I am offended by this because Christians hold the Bible to be sacred. For it to be publicly defiled in this way is very offensive,” she said.
Jane Clarke, the artist, asked visitors to annotate the Bible with their experiences, but she has requested the gallery to display it in a glass case after it was daubed with “offensive” comments.
The piece, called Untitled 2009, caused a furore when it went on display in the Made In God’s Image exhibition at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art.
Miss Clarke, a minister at the Metropolitan Community Church, a ministry for homosexuals, said she had not intended to offend.
“I had hoped that people would show respect for the Bible, for Christianity and indeed for the Gallery of Modern Art. I am saddened that some people have chosen to write offensive messages. I had hoped that people would show respect for the Bible, for Christianity and indeed for the Gallery of Modern Art. I am saddened that some people have chosen to write offensive messages.”
Paper and pens will be provided for visitors to write down their thoughts and will be inserted into the Bible later. More than 100 people gathered outside the gallery yesterday to protest against the exhibit.
Made in God’s Image will be on display at the gallery until August 22, 2009