Archive for Sunday, June 1, 2003

Religious artwork not right for Senate building, critics say

June 1, 2003


— An exhibit of Christian art in a U.S. Senate office building sponsored by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., has drawn criticism that the display creates the impression of government-supported advocacy of one religion over another.

The artwork, presented by the Herndon, Va.-based Christ Jesus Ministry Inc., was exhibited Tuesday through Friday at the U.S. Senate Russell Building Rotunda. It is the third time since 1999 that the group has been permitted to display religious artwork in the rotunda, which features weekly exhibits on a rotating basis.

People for the American Way, an organization that says it promotes religious freedom and respect for diversity, said Friday that the artwork raised questions about the proper use of exhibit space in government buildings.

"We're not saying it's inappropriate to display art with religious themes, but this particular exhibit gives the impression to the average tourist of government-sponsored religious proselytization," said Elliot Mincberg, the organization's vice president and legal director.

"Whether it's pro- or anti-religion, the government is supposed to be neutral on those issues," Mincberg said.

Santorum, who drew fire from gay rights groups last month after he criticized homosexuality and equated it to bigamy, incest and adultery, could not be reached for comment on criticism of the exhibit.

On the exhibit's last day Friday, artists Johnathan Dwayne of Puerto Rico and Terri Derocher, from Spokane, Wash., were on hand to talk to visitors about their work.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.