SUMMARY: This is an ethical and controversial discussion on censoring visual artworks depicting the Christian faith and how past cases may affect expression in the field of graphic art. This identifies the issue on the evidence of class action against the artist and at times the artist taking action towards their violators. This also discusses the fair and appropriate viewpoint differences in the censorship of Christian art. This includes the position on Christian art censorship including the reasons and support for this opinion.
The reason that I have chosen censorship in relation to my career in graphic design and illustration and my Christian faith. These are set upon the relation of censorship and how it does effect art and Christian faith. What I mean is that the Christian faith has always been under persecution and it is evidence in history particularly Unites States history where the 1st Amendment protects the rights of practice of free speech, religion, press, and assembly. In my personal experience I relate to an actual event that was published in the local newspaper The Charleston Gazette. This event ran three different times, the first on March 8, 2006 and was a controversial topic at the time that put the School Board up in arms over the situation with the ACLU. “For years the Jesus painting hung in the Bridgeport High School for years, never a complain, until a local lawyer and parent, handed the school a copy of a 1994 case of the United States Court of Appeals of a painting of Jesus hanging in a school in Michigan that violated a student’s first amendment rights.” (Schubert)
There has been many other instead that have involved the censorship of Christian art and it’s message of the Christian faith. Take for example “when a student was disciplined for creating a picture depicting a cross in a landscape by a teacher while at the same time pictures of demonic images were accepted. The student then filed a federal suit against his art teacher alleging that his teacher censored his drawing because it contained a cross and biblical reference.” (Associated Press) There have been cases on the other hand where churches have protected the artwork that was inappropriate morally and provocation on the count of being offended of a controversial subject. “The people of the church group have the power to under the rules of jurisdiction to censor artwork that is not appealing to them.” (Berg)
People, who follow their Christian faith as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, must also need to consider if they were to use their gifts given to them the practice of morality, good judgment, and devotion to good works are important. With this said, a Christian artist will confront in society who will determine by their own beliefs and causes to censor such creative materials in relations to the Christian faith. “In the case of the city of Deltona, Florida had censored paintings from a city hall displays because they contained references to the Christian faith.” (World Net Daily) During the past three decades similar cases have come under fire with the censoring of artworks and other literary works relating to the Christian faith. Another incident at a library in Wisconsin, after inviting religious schools for six years, told them that they could no longer show their artwork with crosses on them. Other people thought this was pushing religion. But ironically the library had on their shelves books about different religions.
According to a New York City mayor the censorship of religious art would be a violation of the First Amendment and the separation of church and state ruling. This time the Brooklyn Museum of Art challenged the courts by displaying a Virgin Mary painting that included an element of elephant dung. The briefing files stated, “on the censorship of art on religious grounds would effectively resurrect the anti-blasphemy laws.” (Americans United for the Separation of Church and State) In a chronological of events stemming from the Mapplethorpe Censorship Controversy a statement was given by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 upon signing the legislation the National Endowment for the Arts said, “We fully recognize that no government can called artistic excellence into existence, nor any government seek to restrict the freedom of the artist to pursue his own goals in his own way.” (Quigley) When Ronald Reagan took office in 1980 and attempted to eliminate the NEA but got lack of support from Congress was unable to remove and restrict funds from the arts establishment. The current upheaval over the NEA’s support of controversial artists began with the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association held a press conference to denounce NEA funding of “anti-Christian bigotry.”
In sight of these viewpoints present here comes to this supportive conclusion. If a Christian artist were to display their works in a tangible form in public buildings or in printed materials would it be legally right for that person to do so? It’s whether that “anyone in their own view can say that religious people have rejected modern art and artists have rejected religion. It is rather a choice more than anything that a Christian holds the key to return to a way of life in an industrial society.” (Glyn) Without the contribution of one’s Christian faith in their success and determination of moral and academic achievements it would mean nothing to express them in a way that is alien to their beliefs and at the same time restrict their ideas and concepts that would be of better benefit for society as a whole.
The position of Christian artists and the censorship of their works has been a debate that has been present in court battles and the laws upon their rights for an existence to express those ideas on a impressive scale and represents other groups as well that uphold the rights of freedoms of expression. As long as there are opportunities open for Christian artists to express their ideas, without the interfering of other differing oppositions, that can mentor to society that need a foundation and a choice from limitations of a world that get others to conform to a life that individuals may not be seeking. The Christian faith give a whole new attitude on life’s ideas and continues to encourage to more forward to a new outlook on values and character.
Associated Press. Student Sues Wisconsin School After Getting a Zero for Religious Drawing. April 01, 2008. Fox News. Web. May 29, 2010. <http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,344350,00.html>
Berg, Lene Who has the right to censor art? Instead of direct censorship we have rules that allow people in power to stop whatever does not please them. The Art Newspaper. December 2008. Pub. online January 5, 2009. Web. May 29, 2010. <http://current.com/1nof64c>
City censors paintings as too religious: Nixes Black History Month art due to small Christian references. WorldNetDaily.com. February 09, 2006. Web. May 29, 2010. http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=34731
Glyn, Susan. F.D. Martin and the Problem of Censorship in Religious Art. Leonardo. Vol. 9, pp. 38-40. Pergamon Press. Print. 1976. <http://www.jstor.org/pss/1573298>
Melchert, Robert. Menomonee Falls Library – Censoring Religious Art! April 6, 2010. RobertMelchert.com. May 29, 2010. <http://randallmelchert.com/2010/04/06/menomonee-falls-library-censoring-religious-art/>
NYC Mayor’s Religious Art Censorship Would Violate Church-State Separation, Au Says In Court Brief. American’s United for Separation for Church and State. January 3, 2000. Web. May 29, 2010. <http://au.convio.net/site/News2?abbr=pr&page=NewsArticle&id=6455&news_iv_ctrl=1461>
Quigley, Margaret. The Mapplethorpe Censorship Controversy. Political Research Associates. May 29, 2010. <http://www.publiceye.org/theocrat/Mapplethorpe_Chrono.html>
Ross, Jeremy. Menomonee Falls Public Library Now Allowing Formerly Rejected Religious Art. Fox 6 News. April 07, 2010. Video. Web. <http://www.fox6now.com/news/witi-100407-art- fair,0,1509261.story>
Schubert, Elizabeth. Jesus Painting Causes Concern. WBOY 12 News. March 8, 2006. Web. June 3, 2010 <http://wboy.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=9247>
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