KANSAS CITY, KAN. A federal judge will allow Washburn University to continue to display a sculpture of a Catholic clergyman while a lawsuit seeking its removal moves forward.
U.S. District Judge G. Thomas VanBebber on Monday denied a request for a temporary restraining order prohibiting the statue's display.
Some critics contend the ceremonial hat worn by the clergyman in Jerry Boyle's "Holier than Thou" resembles a penis. Also, the lawsuit, filed last week by a professor and student, criticizes the artwork for giving the clergyman a "grotesque" facial expression. The statue is displayed outside the student union.
The lawsuit filed by biology professor Thomas O'Connor and student Andrew Strobl argued the sculpture is anti-Catholic and represents an official expression of hostility toward their faith, violating their constitutional right to religious freedom.
The lawsuit names the university, its board of regents and President Jerry Farley as defendants.
Boyle has said that like all art, his sculpture, which was created in 1990, is open to interpretation.
He also has noted that the work was displayed in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo., a few years ago without inspiring a similar controversy.