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Smithsonian Pulls Controversial Crucifix Video After Congressional Complaint

4 years ago
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A work of video art briefly depicting a figurine of Christ with ants crawling on it has been yanked from the Smithsonian's Portrait Gallery after complaints from a Catholic group and members of Congress.

The four-minute video, made by the late New York City artist David Wojnarowicz, features an 11-second segment of a small crucifix teeming with the insects. It had been on exhibit since Oct. 30 as part of a show on sexual difference in American portrait art.

The piece was labeled "hate speech" by Catholic League president William Donohue and a misuse of taxpayer money by the office of Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

"While the amount of money involved may be small, it's symbolic of the arrogance Washington routinely applies to thousands of spending decisions involving Americans' hard-earned money," said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Boehner, the likely next Speaker of the House.

Smithsonian officials told the Post they removed the offending piece to make sure the show's other pieces weren't overshadowed by the controversy.

"The decision wasn't caving in," said museum director Martin E. Sullivan. "We don't want to shy away from anything that is controversial, but we want to focus on the museum's and this show's strengths."

The video was included in the exhibit, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture." The Post said the show was paid for in part by a large number of private donors.
Filed Under: Scandal, Video, Congress, Religion

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I just composed and sent the following to my Congressman and the President. Feel free to borrow it. Find your Congressman/Senator here: President Obama: Let's make our voices heard! RE: SMITHSONIAN EXHIBIT Dear Congressman ------, I am writing to encourage you to take a stand against the despicable and cowardly attack on Christianity and America's Christians that was recently launched with such impugnity and venom by the Smithsonian Institution. It is outrageous that the people's tax dollars are being used for a perverted and blasphemous display at a time when the country is crippled by unemployment and economic decay. On top of that, they chose to mount this affront during a season of Judeo-Christian remembrance. It was also quite recognizably a cowardly act, for this institution and its supporters would never countenance a similar attack on the leaders of other religions such as Mohammed or the Buddha. Yet Christians are fair game? This is a Christian nation. I urge you to be vigilant and aggressive concerning this waste of our taxpayer monies. In my opinion, if the Smithsonian keeps doing this sort of thing (it's not the first time) it should be privatized so that the lovers of perverted art can take responsibility for it's funding. I hope there will also be an inquiry once and for all as to the leadership of the Smithsonia and the National Endowment for the Arts. Respectfully, -----

December 02 2010 at 3:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If this had been a Star of David you would have the Anti Defamation League and Bnai Brith calling for someone's head. If it had been anything Muslim, you would be talking blood in the streets. Just goes to show you how Catholics (and anything concerning catholics) can be dragged through the mud and not much of a whimper. Of course, the crucifix and Christ aren't just catholic. Protestants believe in Christ and the passion just as catholics do. They just don't accept every individual tenet of the Catholic faith.

December 01 2010 at 10:25 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Let's be clear,the term art here,is a relative. I am grateful that this video was removed, as this is just another example of intolerance and hostility towards Catholicism.

December 01 2010 at 6:32 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

Just what is a crucifix? If you have been brainwashed completely, you think it's god. Another view that escapes most people, is that it's a voodoo doll.

December 01 2010 at 6:18 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply

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