In 1987, Andres Serrano submerged a crucifix in a glass of his own urine and took a picture. Entitled “Piss Christ,” the photograph won first place in a contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 1996, another avant-garde artist, Chris Ofili, smeared elephant dung on a portrait of the Blessed Mother and displayed it in a government-funded Brooklyn museum.
And so the stage was set for the ensuing nightmare of Christian terror and violence that descended on the American art community.
Just kidding. Nothing of the sort happened. There were no canonical death warrants issued, no attempts on the artists’ lives, and no threats of violence against the artists, the contest organizers, the museum curators, or anyone else.
To be sure, Christians objected to “Piss Christ” and the feces-covered Holy Virgin. And they rightfully wondered why their tax dollars had been used to promote these blasphemies. But their objections and questions were condescendingly dismissed by the secular left in the media and intelligentsia. As one prominent art critic sniffed, Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” was “deliberately provocative” in order to “jolt viewers into an expanded frame of reference, and perhaps even toward illumination.”
As if in one voice, the mainstream media and self-anointed intelligentsia argued that antiquated religious sensitivities must not be allowed to interfere with either an artist’s free expression or his right to government funding regardless of how offensive his work may be to Christians.
Well, it seems that things have changed.