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Anger as Bible is defaced in the name of art

Ramsey DeHani July 24, 2009
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An art gallery in Scotland has been attacked by the church after an exhibition inviting people to write messages on a Bible was met with “abuse” and “obscenity”, including one person writing “f*** the bible”.

The exhibition was created by artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone, in association with organisations representing gay Christians and Muslims.

Held at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, the idea was originally proposed by the Metropolitan Community Church as a way to “reclaim the Bible as a sacred text.”

The church itself had suggested the “interactive” Bible and pens, which included a message saying: “If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it”.

But the group was shocked when visitors left such comments as “This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all.”

One contributor wrote on the first page of the Book of Genesis: “I am Bi, Female & Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this.”

Jane Clarke, a minister of the community church, said that she regretted the insults.

Speaking to The Times, she said: “The Bible should never be used like that. It was our intention to reclaim it as a sacred text.”

While the exhibition’s supporters insist that it promotes “inclusivity” and should break down the barriers between religion and the LGBT community, most contributors have, instead, spoken out with their views.

The producers of the exhibition, called ‘Untitled 2009’, have said that the most offensive messages will be removed.

Mr Schrag said: “Any offensive things that have been written are not the point of the work.”

He added: “It was an open gesture. Are those who say they are upset offended by the things that people write, or just by the very notion that someone should write on a Bible?”

He defended the work, stating: “If we are to open up the Bible for discussion, surely we have to invite people to speak out. Art allows us to discuss difficult things.”

Another feature of the exhibition involved a video of a performance artist, Roxanne Claxton, tearing out pages of the Bible and stuffing them into her bra, knickers and mouth.

The film was called “the word as power”.

Mr Schrag said: “Roxanne gave a performance where she ate a Bible and it became part of her.”

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said it condemned any sacrilegious act and stated: “We would discourage anyone from defacing the Bible.”

Related topics: Scotland

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