An infamous anti-Christian photograph titled "Piss Christ," showing a small plastic crucifix soaked in the artist's urine, will go on display in Manhattan's Edward Tyler Nahem Gallery on Thursday, The New York Post reports.
Almost immediately after it was announced that "Piss Christ" would be making a surprise return to the Big Apple, Christian leaders and conservative lawmakers began accusing the Obama administration of religious hypocrisy, saying while the White House has been silent on the anti-Christian photograph, it has constantly and strongly condemned the low-budget anti-Muslim YouTube clip "Innocence of Muslims" that offended people of the Islamic faith and supposedly sparked unrest in the Middle East.
"The Obama administration’s hypocrisy and utter lack of respect for the religious beliefs of Americans has reached an all-time high," Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) 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."
"Piss Christ" made its official debut in 1989. Then Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato, of New York, slammed the photograph during a speech on the Senate floor, calling it "a deplorable, despicable piece of vulgarity." He went on to tear a reproduction of the photograph to shreds and tossed the pieces on the ground, according to The New York Times.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, told Fox News that there appears to be a "protected class" for Muslims and some other segments of the population.
"I would like to find out what my government is going to say about this," he said. "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."
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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.”
As Fox News' Todd Starnes points out, in addition to condemning the anti-Islamic YouTube video in numerous statements and speeches, the Obama administration also paid $70,000 in taxpayer money to air ads in Pakistan denouncing the video.
“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence, none,” Obama says in the ad.
“The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says at another point in the ad.
Neither the Pentagon nor the White House responded to Fox News' request for comment.
The New York Times has some more background on the controversial piece of "art":
The work has been attacked by vandals in Australia and Sweden. And last year a hammer-wielding lay critic in France permanently damaged one of the 10 existing prints, perhaps in ways that only deepened its commentary on bodily suffering. ("It looked like they’d attacked Christ," Mr. Serrano told The Post. "The marks were all around the face.")
Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, which will be showing an undamaged print as part of a Serrano retrospective, said it was increasing security for the exhibition, which runs through Oct. 26. But it’s been a while since works deemed blasphemous have inspired loud public protest in New York. In 2010 the National Portrait Gallery in Washington removed a 1987 video by David Wojnarowicz, another veteran of the N.E.A. battles, from an exhibition after politicians in Congress complained about a brief sequence showing ants crawling on a crucifix. But there was little public fuss when the video was included in a version of the same show at the Brooklyn Museum the following year.