Quoted from Coloradoan Story: How Far Can Freedom Of Expression Go?
Iman Babazadeh • Reader Submitted • December 16, 2010
A little over two months ago, protestors gathered around the Loveland Museum Gallery to speak their mind on a certain painting. It was done by Enrique Chagoya, and entitled, "The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals". The painting depicted Jesus Christ involved immoral acts, obviously angering Christians, thus causing the protests. Some of the following responses to the painting are found in the Reporter Herald's "Protesters Picket Outside Loveland Museum Gallery": "It is visual profanity," states Linda King, owner of another art gallery nearby; "I haven't seen it, and I won't", says local Chris Jones; "They have crossed the line. Our children should not be exposed to this. Unfortunately our brains are like computers. They store images. I prayed before I went in that God would take it away", responds Laurie Martinez, a parishioner from the St. John Evangelist Catholic Church.
Then on October sixth, something unforeseen occurred at the gallery where the art work resided. Kathleen Folden, a truck driver from Montana, drove all the way from her home to Loveland and destroyed the painting with a crowbar. Her perspective was quite obvious when she yelled out "How can you desecrate my Lord?"(denverpost.com). A day later, Folden's bond for her release was set at $350. Strangely enough, the bond was paid by an anonymous donor. The Denver Post's "Suspect in Attack on Art Claimed Religious Reasons" said that, "As she left jail, she declined questions but told reporters, 'Just remember, God is real.'" Interesting responses came from Christians as they were mostly divided on how to act towards Folden. Some believed that it was just and noble for Folden to travel all that way just to rip up a painting. Others thought that even though Chagoya created something that modern day society might not fully agree with, Folden should have shown better self-control as a Christian and done something else other than just blatantly destroy Chagoya's work.
While all of this was happening with Kathleen Folden, Resurrection Fellowship Church's head pastor, Jonathan Wiggins, decided that he was going to email Chagoya in an attempt to figure out what had motivated Chagoya to paint this picture. His attitude in the emails were quite calm compared to the massive amounts of hate mail Chagoya had been receiving. In the first email, Wiggins explained that a little angered at first about the painting, but then decided that he would ask what Chagoya's real intentions were before he would make up his mind on where to stand on this whole ordeal. Within hours, Chagoya replied, thanking the pastor for his kindness when all the other mail he received was chastising him and saying that he was the only person to ask what the painting meant, stating his reasoning behind the art work. Chagoya explained to Wiggins that it was not Jesus Christ in the painting, but that the work as a whole was portraying a common problem that has happened to the churches all across America in the past few years. Resurrection Fellowship's official website says that in Chagoya's emails to Wiggins, he says that a "corruption of the spiritual" has occurred. According to Chagoya, the painting wasn't about becoming more publicized, or defacing Christians' beliefs at all; it was to show that "something precious got corrupted".
Pastor Wiggins replied asking if Chagoya could offer his talents in a different way, representing Jesus Christ as love in a new painting. Chagoya accepted, and said that he would paint it for Resurrection Fellowship Church free of charge. He began work on this new painting soon after his emails with Pastor Wiggins.
My research led me to look for someone who has lived in Fort Collins for a long time, allowing for wise opinion on the whole subject matter. I turned to interview a couple who asked to remain anonymous. This couple has lived in Fort Collins for thirty one years, are active in the community, and are currently members of the Rotary Club (a secular organization devoted to building community and peace). They said that even though they did not actually see the original painting, they thought Chagoya could have done a better, more wholesome job portraying his meaning. As for Kathleen Folden's actions, at first the Fort Collins residents thought that her deed was justifiable-she was protecting her Christian faith; but as time passed they stated that they realized Folden herself could have acted better saying,"We don't think it's right to condemn, only God can condemn people."
Considering all of this, what should be said about it? I think that no matter what your beliefs are, Christian or not, that we should really examine something more closely before we make accusations; just like the old saying "don't judge a book by its cover".
---------- CENSORED COMMENT ----------
There is nothing strange about a print making the rounds. They are a limited signed set usually, a hundred or less, and allow the work of art to be disseminated in a better fashion to art galleries, rather than having the painting itself make the rounds.
Regardless, actions do speak louder than words. The acts of Ms. Folden speak for themselves. The rationalization that she "*** was protecting her Christian faith ***" just doesn't hold water. Nothing gives anybody the right in America to defend their religious faith with violence. By condoning such, in the media and legal system, many miss the point of why we have troops in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, IMHO...
12/26/2010 6:16:48 PM