Catholic League Plans Protest of 'Piss Christ' Exhibit

The president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights says his organization will protest a photography exhibit at a New York City art gallery on Thursday because of a photograph that will be on display which shows a crucifix submerged in a jar of the artist's urine.

"My complaint about it has to do primarily with the timing and the venue. The venue, which I've spoken to, is not some dump ... it's a prestigious art gallery. The timing is done to basically take the middle finger of the artistic community and put it right into the face of Christians," Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, said Tuesday on America's Radio News Network.

The controversial photograph, titled "Piss Christ," will be featured in the "Body and Spirit: Andres Serrano 1987-2012" exhibit in Manhattan starting Thursday. The photograph was taken in 1987, and Serrano has said that it is "meant to question the whole notion of what is acceptable and unacceptable."

Donohue and many others have condemned the piece as unnecessarily offensive to Christians, and some say it has helped uncover hypocrisy in the White House. Those outraged by the photograph suggest President Barack Obama's administration has shown bias by condemning "Innocence of Muslims," the anti-Muslim film that mocks the Islamic prophet Muhammad and sparked Muslim protests worldwide, but not "Piss Christ."

Michael Grimm, a Republican congressman from New York, bashed the president and his administration in a statement late last week for their "utter lack of respect for the religious beliefs of Americans."

"As a Catholic, I find 'Piss Christ' to be vulgar and offensive, just as many in the Islamic world found 'Innocence of Muslims' to be highly offensive. Like most Americans, I condemn both yet remain tolerant as the First Amendment demands. Unfortunately, this administration has yet to echo these views in regards to the religiously offensive 'art' here at home," said Grimm.

He continued, "While I believe that we must walk a fine line in regards to free speech, this administration is clearly taking an a la carte approach. In picking winners and losers, it has turned its back on the American people to apologize to the very nations that allowed our embassies to be stormed and our flags to be burned."

According to Donohue, American elitists respect Jews and fear Muslims, but "they hate Catholics and evangelicals." As evidence for his claim, he cited a Venice Film Festival award recently given to a film that shows a woman masturbating with a crucifix, a group of gay individuals at the recent Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco who were dressed as Catholic clergy and the upcoming season of the FX miniseries "American Horror Story: Asylum," which will feature a sadistic nun who mistreats patients in an asylum.

While the Catholic League's protest Thursday is expected to be peaceful, the photograph at the center of the controversy has been met by violence in the past. Following weeks of Christian protests in France in 2011, for example, the photograph was damaged on Palm Sunday after four young people threatened exhibit guards with a hammer, smashed the image's plexiglass case and slashed the photo with a sharp object, The Guardian reported following the incident.

Donohue and members of the Catholic League will hold a press conference in front of Edward Tyler Nahem gallery, where the photo will be on display from Sept. 27 through Oct. 26, at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, a half hour before the exhibit opens.

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