Why the Rooster in WAKE UP AMERICA?

Yesterday I asked the question regarding my new painting, "Wake Up America":  Why did I place the rooster in the painting and what is the symbol I am using?  I promised a free print to the first person who could correctly answer.

I read through all the comments and most all of you were on the right track, but didn't quite take it far enough.  Yes, it is a reference to the New Testament story of how Peter, on the eve of Christ's crucifixion, denied Jesus three times.  When the cock crowed, Peter went and wept bitterly.  The rooster has many symbols and is usually tied with the rise of a new day, waking up, or protection.  In my mind, Americans need to "wake up" to what is happening in our country.  We are in a state of denial and like Peter will go and weep bitterly as we come to realize our mistake.

Gina Burnett was the first of only two that hit the nail on the head...

The rooster is symbolic of the fact that almost all of the people are denying that they are slaves of the government. The "forgotten man" understands that and is trying to break free of government slavery. There are some people that are noticing that, but not yet acting on it. The rooster is a warning of impending disaster. 

I will give her my first print off the press!  Thank you for entering our little contest.  I will do more like this as we roll out the painting.  Remember, let's WAKE UP AMERICA!!


My Favorite Artist

A question I am often asked by others:  What is your favorite artist?  Who inspires you?

It would be Michelangelo.  Yes, he is one of the most famous artists who ever lived (for good reason), but it is the man behind the art that captivates me.  Michelangelo came to us at the heart of the Italian Renaissance.  It was a time when the great artists, architects, sculptors and others where looking to the past in order to improve upon the future.  They were in a sense standing upon the shoulders of the great ones!

During Michelangelo’s life he saw the excavation of incredible sculpture by the Romans that were far more expressive than anything his contemporaries were producing.  It inspired him.  As I have read about Michelangelo’s life I feel that he was driven to create art that glorified God.  He felt that his path was different than others and his education would come through personal study and reflection.  He never sought the acceptance or approval of others, but was fiercely independent.  He always followed his personal vision to create what he thought was the will of God.

I admire Michelangelo, not because I think he was perfect (although he is second to none), but because I see what an artist can do when he puts himself in the hands of the true master, our Lord Jesus Christ.  I will never be a Michelangelo.  I do not want to emulate his art or paint like him.  My path is different.  I will be the best Jon McNaughton I can be.  I will use my art to leave a message to the world that I feel is worth seeing.  Though I may be hated and mocked by many because my art does not fit into their personal view, my voice will be heard.

Each of us should follow the example of Michelangelo as we discover the great voice within us.


Between Them and God

Here is a question I received regarding my painting One Nation Under God.  

AMAZING! While I scrolled over every image (I thought), down front, I could see some of the personalities in me, some of which I was ashamed. I did not realize until I read your commentary, and Satan was in there. I had to go back to find him, I finally did, he is almost transparent. I realized, just as we have Jesus in us, we also have Satan, no matter how faint he is. I applaud you. This made me look at my character, and see me, more clearly. Though I am not proud of some of it...

Thank you!  I like it when people personalize the painting and they find additional meaning.  Your interpretation is exactly what I hope many will consider.

Why would you have Christ be the central figure to such self righteous indignation? 

To have Christ in the center so prominently holding the Constitution makes a powerful statement.  Some would like to interpret this to mean if you’re not a Christian—get out!  My view of Christianity in regards to this painting is this:  God loves all of us.  In the painting His face is sad and He looks off into the distance as if He can see our future.  The purpose of the painting is not to say only Christians belong here.  It is to say that the Constitution is what made our country great.

Why do you judge a whole group of people by the actions of a few? Do you actually believe that Christ would approve of the such a generalization of HIS children?  

I’m not sure why you assume I am judging anyone.  The people in the bottom right corner represent those that I believe are weakening our country by not supporting the principles of the Constitution.  These figures represent a symbol of a type of person.  If there is any kind of “sin” involved, that is between them and God.


My Prayer for 911

Many of us have been thinking about the ten year anniversary of 911 that is approaching.  A stream of emotions floods my mind and heart as I remember the events that day.   We all mourned together as we saw the destruction and loss of life in the Twin Towers, but out of the ashes of that day Americans showed love and compassion and renewed patriotism towards each other.  911 was one of our country’s worst moments and yet one of our very best. 

As we remember 911 I hope we can think of it like a new Independence Day in America.  Let it be a day to remember hope, love, and our dependence on God.  May we seek to find favor and blessings from Him.

Since the mayor of New York will not allow a prayer at the 911 service which will be held, I will offer my own:

Our Father which is in Heaven,

As we remember those whom we love who have died on this hallowed ground, mothers and fathers, men and woman who gave up their lives ten years ago.  Please remember the prayers of thy people.  We are deeply saddened by the loss of so many of thy sons and daughters.  Many of which were trying to help relieve the suffering of those still inside the towers. 

We know that thou art a just God and knoweth all things.  Thou knowest the hearts of conspiring men and those who would seek to destroy our country. 

Today, as our country stands divided, wilt thou open a door to allow for Americans to see the light of liberty.  Wilt thou allow thy Spirit to enlighten the minds and hearts of the Amercican people that they may seek a path of responsibility and prudence and trust in thee in all righteousness.  Lord, bless us to remember we are One Nation Under God.

And this we pray, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen


Discount for Facebook Fans

As you may have heard we have a TV commercial for One Nation Under God which has begun today!  It's a special offer we have never done before for the purpose of spreading the word that we are ONE NATION UNDER GOD!    To see the commercial click here:  www.buyonenationundergod.com

I am offering a five dollar discount to any of my Facebook fans who enter the promo code: JMDISC5

What makes this offer so amazing is that not only do you save $5.00 on the regular price of the print, but you also recieve a detailed Reference Guide with the key to the painting, three 5X7 Gift Cards, a Constitution Booklet, and an hour long documentary about the painting explaining every detail and symbol and my story behind the painting!  It's awesome!!  Now is the best time to get a copy of this for your self or a friend.

After it arrives in the mail, please let me know how you like it!

Jon McNaughton


What About African Americans?

I had the following question about my painting One Nation Under God:

I love the painting...I really do.  But as an African American...where do we really stand in this country?  I see Fredrick Douglass and Harriett Tubman in the painting but they are in the back and this really shows where we are an ethnic group in America.

This world is just what it is...and as we both know WE ALL will face GOD even the unbelievers. Not trying to make a fuss, but just saying what needs to be said. Thanks for letting me give an opinion.

I responded:

I appreciate your point of view. The subject of race is a sensitive issue. I feel there has been improvement in the white community in regards to racism, although there is obviously room for growth. In my painting I have nine figures directly related to Civil Rights. In the background there are twenty three figures—only three are black. I suppose I looked at the painting to some extent with color blindness. I never meant to make a statement that African Americans are less important. In the Constitution it says that all men are created equal. In the beginning, because of states that disputed the issue of slavery, this part was not complete. With the addition of the thirteenth amendment we moved closer to equal freedoms. You asked, “As an African American…where do we really stand in this country?” Under the Constitution we are now all equal. I believe that as an “AMERICAN”, you can stand for God, you can stand for truth, you can stand for equal rights, and you can stand for liberty. And in the sight of God we are all equal.


Pregnant Women Are Not Evil

I received the following letter concerning my painting One Nation Under God:

I picked up (whether intentional or not) the symbolism of the people in the front of Jesus Christ as being gracious on the right and wretched on the left. However, the pregnant women who wants to keep her baby is on the left side. Any specific reason for this? She seems to be out of place and should be on the right. Your thoughts?

I have strong feelings about the subject of abortion.  By putting her behind the Supreme Court Judge who represents the legalizing of abortion, it amplifies the message.  The people on the bottom right side are not damned souls.  They are those who are caught in the struggle.  The judge and the pregnant woman are actually listening to the voices of change.


Do You Know Jesus?

Someone sent me the following letter:

Thank you.  That is a question that applies to all of us.  I believe that each individual at some point has to decide whether they accept Jesus as their Savior.  It is a personal realization and goes beyond simply speaking the words.  In answer to your question, yes, I know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. But this answer only has meaning between me and God.  I believe to know Christ is to do the works of Christ.  I found this scripture that I have applied to myself:  2 Timothy 2:19-26 (remarkable scripture)


Pushing Towards Socialism?

I was asked the following question:

Under the #2 explanation information of the painting, you state, “Except for the pregnant woman, these are people who pushed our country toward Socialism.”  I don’t understand why you would say that.  Please explain.  Thank you.

This is a good question.  My first thought was, “How can I answer this briefly without outraging a political science instructor?”  The people in the bottom right corner could be of any political persuasion.  I use these metaphorical figures to highlight what I consider to be some of the problems we face in America today.  When I talk about socialism I am referring to a government which would have ownership or control of all means of production and distribution.  This is obviously the antithesis of a free market society.  I believe those who are proponents of a larger federal government advocate “taking from the haves and giving to the have nots.”  The Constitution is a standard for equal rights, not equal things.  Our country has been steadily moving toward a socialistic form of government and this is alarming to most conservatives.  When I say, “These are people who have pushed our country toward socialism” I am referring to the liberal mindset that believes in more federal government control. 

Click on image to learn more.


Painting Borders On Fascist?

As the title of your painting suggests, ours is "One Nation Under God" -- not "One Nation Under Christ" as your painting depicts. At best, your painting is offensive to non-Christians or those who exercise their right not to believe in the God. At worst, the painting borders on fascist. I guess this just goes to prove one thing -- that fundamentalism is not restricted to just to regions like the Middle East and countries like Yemen. It is alive and well in the US of A.  I pray that you will see the light -- that history has proven that mixing religion into politics is a lethal combination. I would have though that 9/11 had proven that.
Rev. Fr. Anastasios Gounaris
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Christian Church

This is an interesting perspective coming from a Christian minister.  Are you not familiar with our country’s Christian roots?  The symbolism of Christ holding the Constitution should not be offensive if you believe the Constitution was divinely inspired.  And then you state that that the painting “borders on Fascist?”  Fascism is where the state becomes more important than the individual, usually with a military run authoritarian government—the exact opposite of a Republic! Fundamentalism is a strict coherence to one’s beliefs.  In an age of compromise we need more good Americans to stand up for what they believe in. 


Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

I get angry letters on a regular basis from confused people regarding my painting, "One Nation Under God."  Here is one letter followed by a short response from me:

So EVERY politician, judge (which I am, thank you), and hollywood professional is automatically "left wing" and awful and on the wrong side? What about the philanthropists in these groups? Without these "liberals" there would be many starving, homeless and orphaned people in this world. Nice concept for art, but your random "grouping" and mass condemnations are not worthy of print. A lot of those you randomly put on the "wrong" side are very good Christ-loving people. P.S. Where are Jesus' family of Messianic Jews depicted?

If a man wearing black leather, chains and covered with tattoos was charged with a crime in your court, would you immediately think he was guilty? If you had taken only a few minutes to read my comments you would find the true intention of these symbolic figures. There are good philanthropists (and Jews) from all walks of life, but that wasn’t the point of the painting.

Click image to learn more.



By way of appreciation I will be giving away one of my original drawings to one of my Facebook fans! (CONTEST RULES BELOW)

In this contest I will give away the ORIGINAL DRAWING titled, “I was touched.”  This is not a print…it’s the real deal! 

The inspiration for this drawing comes from Luke Chapter 8:46-48

"And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me:  for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.  And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she was healed immediately.  And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort:  thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."

For me, this is one of the most touching moments in the Bible and I plan some day to paint it.  Drawings like this help me to start the process of creation and seeing it in my mind.  I hope that this will be a worthy gift to whoever wins.  

(Contest ended July 24, 2011)
Thank you to all who participated.  We will give away more special items in the future!


Beautifully Simple and Simply Beautiful

Next Monday I will be going into seclusion as I begin my newest painting.  The title will be, "Wake Up America."  I want this painting to create a shocking visual truth of what is happening in our country and hopefully wake up more Americans as to what is at stake.

I look around me and I am utterly amazed at the apathy and denial of many Americans as they refuse to deal with the debt crisis our country is facing. Congress has made no headway in dealing with this issue.  In April the Congress was only able to agree to 36.5 billion in spending cuts.

Our gross debt has increased over $500 billion each year since fiscal year (FY) 2003, with increases of $1 trillion in FY2008, $1.9 trillion in FY2009, and $1.7 trillion in FY2010.  Together with the budget deficit, this debt was one of the reasons given by Standard and Poors to downgrade the United States' credit outlook to "negative" on April 18, 2011.

We simply cannot curb our spending in Washington.  We must make significant changes to the way our country runs the federal government.  But too many are chained to their entitlement spending mentality and will not tolerate the government taking away anything they feel is owed to them.  We feel that the federal government must babysit every aspect of our lives.  Americans need to grow up.

In the next sixteen months I will offer some solutions in both a visual and multi-media manner as to how we can take our country from where we are now, to where it would be incredibly prosperous.  My ideas will sometimes sound familiar and other times be completely unheard of, but know this:  the correct answer is often the most simple and that which is beautifully simple is in my opinion simply beautiful. 

Stay tuned...first painting will be released October 1st!


One Nation Under God on TV

I am asking for some help with a special TV commercial we are doing for my painting One Nation Under God.  It will be aired across the country beginning this August. 

If you own a print of my painting One Nation Under God we would like to include you in the commercial sharing your feelings about the image; what it means to you.  I will give those who participate a free signed print of one of my paintings.  If you live in Utah or are close enough to travel to the studio location I would be grateful.  The day of the TV filming is Wednesday, June 22nd.  It will take only 30 minutes.  If you are interested please e-mail us at mcnaughtonart@msn.com.  Leave your name and phone number and we will call you.  Thank you for your help with our effort.

Jon McNaughton


Shake the Nation

Sometimes life seems stranger than fiction.  One of the things that continue to amaze me is the constant attack I get from those who hate the message I am portraying in my work.  I get a constant barrage of emails, phone calls and shout outs from those who have targeted me for speaking in defense of Christian Conservative values.  This never happened when I was content with only painting landscape paintings, but it sure feels right to take a stand for something in a world that increasingly expects the majority to conform to political correctness.

One of the things that I am endeavoring to do with my art now is to use it as a way to influence people to take a second look at our situation.  To open their eyes to the deceit we have been fed by the media regarding our domestic and foreign policy which has led us down a dangerous road to insolvency and ruin. 

The antagonists can yell and stomp their feet.  I am getting more and more heckling on my Facebook, Twitter and all over the Internet.  But at the same time it is comforting to hear the many words of encouragement and support from those who share my values and belief.  Please pray for my family and me as we embark on the next fourteen months, which lead up to the presidential election.  The new paintings I have planned are going to shake the nation.


I'm Just An Artist...What Can I Do?

I was asked when was the first time I knew I wanted to paint political paintings.  I had to sigh as I remembered the single event that started it all. 

It was a sunny afternoon in the summer of 2008 as I came into my studio with a heavy feeling of depression and helplessness having just heard that John McCain would be the Republican nominee for the Republican party.  I knew in my heart that it would be a difficult race, but McCain was far from a conservative and our country needed someone who believed in the principles of the Constitution. 

As I sat in my chair alone in the gallery I bowed my head and felt the urge to pray.  I remember saying, “Lord, I’m just an artist.  What can I do?”  At that moment I had a singular experience that I will always remember.  I turned my head in the direction of my easel and saw a large painting, completed in full detail.  I looked at it for about ten seconds and just as it was about to fade from my mind the words “One Nation Under God” were audible in my head.  I grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and as rapidly as I could I drew the placement of the figures as I had seen them.

At that time I didn’t tell anyone but my wife about the experience.  For me it was profound.  I felt God had given me a gift, but it scared me to even think about it.  I had never painted anything like it before.  It was the most politically incorrect image I had ever seen.  I knew people would be angry that did not agree, but I was determined to proceed and do the painting.

Now that it has been almost three years since I released this image I am humbled and amazed at the reaction the painting has received.  Many have been strengthened by its message and many have been critical of the work.  I simply feel that I did what I was supposed to do. 

You could call it a vision, an epiphany, a moment of inspiration, whatever it was, I know that it was inspired and whether the world finds it acceptable is unimportant.  I believe that the Constitution was inspired and that by abiding by its principles of limited government and by remembering our Lord we will be blessed as a people.  

Perhaps in your own life you have felt similar to me.  "I'm just one person.  What can I do?"  The reason I have shared this personal story is not to bring attention to me, but to suggest that you do the same.  When we ask God how we can make a difference He will always answer.  Sometimes the answer is not what we want to hear, but it will change the world if you comply.  As our country struggles to decide which path it will take, we need to use our individual gifts and circles of influence to help as many people as possible to understand what is happening.  

Click on image to learn more



YES!, we’re doing it again.  In appreciation to our best fans we are giving away some of our most popular prints.  In order to enter this contest only two things are required…

First… Be a new or existing “FOLLOWER” on the MCNAUGHTON BLOG.  Be sure to leave a comment on this page telling me which is your favorite McNaughton painting and why, and include your real name (blog names can be hard to identify for purposes of naming a winner!)

Second…  Write me a note on my Facebook page telling me which print you would like to win.

This contest will run until Thursday the 26th and the winners will be announced Friday the 27th!

There will be a first and second prize awarded.  Each print will be personally signed by the artist!

***FIRST PRIZE:  Choose TWO of your favorite McNaughton 10X15 prints from the following list:  One Nation Under God, The Forgotten Man, Via Dolorosa, Peace is Coming, Parting the Veil, Awaiting the Command.

***SECOND PRIZE:  Choose ONE of your favorite McNaughton 10X15 prints from the same list as above. (To view images visit the photos on Facebook)



The Next Nineteen Months

I talk a lot about the Constitution and the importance of conservative values, but I rarely delve into the fray of politics.  Even my painting “The Forgotten Man” is more about principle than politics.  I watch what is happening and I hope with all my heart that someone will come along that will have what it takes to turn this country around…both economically and morally.  But that would be na├»ve to expect that a single person could do this.  The moral integrity required to save our country will not come from a single president.  Actually, I think the president we elect is a reflection of our country’s moral situation.  When Americans are apathetic about freedom and vote for a candidate by how much the government will give them; that is a dangerous road.  

What will the next couple of years bring us?  Although President Obama is now low in the polling numbers for popularity, he still has a fair chance to be reelected in 2012.  Clinton faced a similar problem as he prepared to run for his second term.  As you know, I lot of the outcome of the 2012 Election will be determined by how well the Republicans can rally behind a single candidate.  This candidate will have to speak to the heart and soul of the American people.  He must be a conservative, not a moderate like John McKane.  

As I look at the coming nineteen months leading up to this crucial election, I feel that my purpose as an artist will be to wake up as many people to our situation as possible.   Most people are visual learners and I want to express what I believe in a way that is clear and unmistakable.  As Americans, we must protect our liberties as defined in the Constitution and make the kind of responsible choices that will guarantee a future for our children and grandchildren. 

May God help us as we strive to rebuild this country.


McNaughton Responds to Questions Concerning Paintings

Yesterday I received a thoughtful post on my Facebook from a man who had sincere questions regarding the intentions of my paintings. I felt that I wanted to respond because I think his words reflect many who have opposing views to “One Nation Under God” and “The Forgotten man.” I think it is always a good thing to have a reasonable discussion without digressing to name calling which often occurs on both sides. I have written my responses in grey text :

Austin Baird

Jon - I appreciate your explanation. I don't at all believe that you're being racist by singling out Obama. I think that people who accuse others of disliking Obama for racist reasons are too lazy to come up with real arguments. I think it's insulting to accuse you of being racist. Let me make sure I understand you - your "ranking" of the presidents isn't based on constitutionality of their actions but instead on how their actions enlarged the government? If that's the case then I have three questions. 

1.) Do you believe that your ranking of the presidents is entirely accurate or fair? I mentioned earlier that it's not intellectually acceptable to espouse political opinions without having backed them up factually. I clearly show the information about each president on my website. http://www.mcnaughtonart.com/artwork/view_zoom/?artpiece_id=379National debt actually had its biggest increase under Reagan. I don't want to turn this into a debate, but if anyone would like those statistics I will gladly send them your way. The point of my question is that your rankings seem to be based more on what the perception of the presidents is (like that Reagan cut spending, which is not backed up by facts) than what the reality is. I never said I was ranking the presidents. My thoughts when I chose where to place the presidents was to put in a prominent place on the right side some of the presidents who had a significant part in expanding the role of the federal government, they would be clapping. I placed G.W. Bush next to Obama because he was guilty as well. I put Wilson between FDR and TR, but didn’t have room to show him clapping. There are a few others like LBJ and Nixon that I’m not crazy about. It’s not so cut and dry. Many people want to think I actually lined them all up based on politics. Not so. I put prominent presidents closer to the front. I wanted to paint the question, “If the presidents of the past could speak to us today, what would they say?”

I know that Reagan raised the debt considerably. Under Reagan the United States borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, raising the national debt from $900 billion to $3 trillion. Reagan described the new debt as the "greatest disappointment" of his presidency. But much of the federal deficit increases were due to military spending, which eventually led to the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Many of Reagan’s fiscal policies led to American prosperity well into the next century. Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute stated that "no act in the last quarter century had a more profound impact on the US economy of the eighties and nineties than the Reagan tax cut of 1981. … The American economy grew by more than a third in size, producing a $15 trillion increase in American wealth. Every income group, from the richest, middle class and poorest in this country, grew its income.” This doesn’t mean I think Reagan was perfect. He also unconstitutionally ratified the Salt II Treaty before having Congressional approval. As for as the debt, remember G. W. Bush raised the debt more than Reagan, and Obama is on track to outdo them all! My painting never made the statement that the other presidents were not guilty. Many have made poor decisions.

2.) The above question stems from the one I ask now, which is the question that I would most like to hear your response to. In some of your other writing (notably on the BYU Bookstore issue) you make much of the fact that "liberal ideas" have led to your painting being taken down and you mention several times that these liberal ideas are problems that need to be dealt with. As I said above, I have no interest in debating with you and so I won't bring up the numerous General Authorities who have been Democrats or had liberal ideas. Your work (meaning all of your paintings and everything that you have said about them) is taken as a whole by your fans and so the ideas espoused in one work (how customarily "liberal" professions are in the darkness in "One Nation Under God") or written by you directly (your blog post on the Bookstore issue) are inseparable from your other works (The Forgotten Man). Do you intend for the viewers to take away from your painting that liberal = bad? That's an idea you've shared numerous times and if it's not one that you intend to convey in this painting, how do you suggest that your fans separate the concepts? I have stated countless times that I don’t want to class “liberals” as bad simply because its not my place to say what is in their heart. What I have repeatedly said is that they are “confused.” There are many definitions of liberal. I am speaking of those who believe that the definition of what is good or bad depends on what is acceptable by society. Liberals see things usually not as black and white, but as a moving grey target and believe they are on the higher ground because they are watching out for the oppressed and down trodden. It is a different paradigm than the conservative American who often sees things as black and white. In my painting I take issue with abortion, the secularization of the schools, the moral denigration of the entertainment business, the liberal bias of the media, the corrupted politician to name a few. These figures represent metaphors for certain types that I believe have weakened our country. They do not represent a sweeping judgment of everyone. In the painting I have people divided to represent the division that is taking place in our country. How can anyone deny that the country is divided on these issues? On the right side the judge feels remorse and the pregnant woman has decided to keep her baby, which shows that they have a change of heart. The patriots in the background are pleading from the dust to the living Americans to change their ways and support the Constitution, which defines a limited federal government. The only people offended by this painting are those that believe in “liberal” ideologies: Never speak of God and government in the same breath, abortion is a choice, Darwinism is supreme, don’t ever judge people, don’t shove your conservative idealogy on me! They are immediately offended because they identify with the right side of the painting and feel I am judging them. Only God will judge. By the way, the painting is not political. I do not speak for Republican or Democrat. JFK stands in the painting a few heads to the left of Reagan. There are liberals and conservatives on both sides of the political aisle. Fifty years ago this painting would have hardly raised an eyebrow because liberalism was almost nonexistent in America. Today, this painting is divisive. Twenty years from now will it be offensive to show a painting that represents a traditional family with a man and woman? Just because society tolerates change should we bend on principle? My fans know what liberalism stands for and they don’t need an explanation. Only liberals need an explanation.

3.) Before I ask this last question - I should clarify that I'm a staunch libertarian. I promise you that any sort of beliefs you hold on the desirability of small government, low taxes, etc. are shared by me. My question isn't about your beliefs, but instead about the way that they're shared. The USA is fairly unique among western, industrialized societies in our libertarian leanings. Most other countries believe in a strong social safety net, often strong enough to constitute a quasi-socialist state. In these countries, most of the citizens believe in these safety nets and are the type of people who you would call liberals or socialists. Among these people are many strong LDS members. Running through your work is the implication that the type of government that God and Jesus approve of includes low taxes and as small of a government as possible. What do you say to the millions of LDS members worldwide who share your religious beliefs but who completely disagree with you politically? Do you only intend for your American fans to take away these inferences? Do you really intend for your viewers to take away what I've said, that political beliefs in big government are antithetical to the sort of government that God intends? 

I apologize for writing you such a novel, but these are questions that I've wanted to ask you for some time. If you don't feel like answering all of them, the second and third questions are the ones that I'm the most interested in. No rush on the response; I imagine that you're busy. I appreciate your participation and civility. This question seems to have more to do with political liberalism (socialism) and not the moral issues of liberalism. America is unique in that we have our Constitution, which clearly defines the extent of government’s involvement in its citizen’s lives. Over time our “republic” has morphed into a democratic socialist model and the Constitution is the only thing between us and a European form of government. As far as liberals who are Christian living in foreign countries, sure they may have a different perspective. People in different parts of the world have less freedom than us and may be perfectly fine with that. I am an American, and do not want to give away a single freedom I have. When the founders created the Constitution and the Bill of Rights they were embarking on something new to the world. A government of the people, and they believed they were endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. Not the rights or privileges bestowed on them by Kings and Nobles. Many countries since have adopted parts of our Constitution, but it is difficult for people to remain free. Too many want to be taken care of by their government at the cost of their liberties.

I believe that the Constitution was inspired and countless Americans have believed this since our country’s inception. As LDS, we believe the words written in D&C 101:80, “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” But this is not limited to an LDS perspective. Many Christian denominations see that God has had a hand in the founding of this nation. Everyone can make their own choice as to whether that is true, but for an LDS person to deny it is to deny the doctrine of the church and that has nothing to do with politics. In my mind God’s plan is about freedom, Satan is for slavery. The more we cut away at the original intent of the Constitution the less freedom we have. In my painting “One Nation Under God” the painting makes the point that the Constitution is divinely inspired and that Americans need to make a choice. If you feel it is wrong for me to say liberalism is the source of the problem, then we cannot agree. I find it interesting that you refer to yourself as Libertarian. What kind of Libertarian are you? I will consider your points and I hope you will consider mine.


Shake You to the Core

My journey as an artist has been anything but what I expected it to be. From the time I was little I knew I wanted to paint pictures. After many years of painting only landscape paintings I had the itch to start doing more religious images. These were very satisfying to me because I could communicate through my art how I felt about Jesus Christ. When I painted “One Nation Under God”, little did I know I was about to embark on a journey that would shake me to the core.

It all started in 2008 when I decided to pray when feeling discouraged concerning what was happening in the election. I asked, “What can I do, I’m just an artist?” At that moment I saw the image in my mind for the "One Nation Under God" painting. Later I felt impressed to paint “The Forgotten Man.” This painting came after I prayed regarding the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I think that the Lord often waits for us to simply come to Him and ask the question...what should I do?

I know that these paintings can be very divisive. Some people have been angry that I would use my art to speak this way. I can't think of any person who has ever stood up for what was right that did not offend others. This life is not a popularity contest.

As an artist, I feel that I have no stronger medium to communicate my thoughts and feelings about what is happening in this country than my paintings. Right now our country is divided on many issues and I imagine this will continue to become more profound over time. May we remember to pray and ask the Lord to inspire us as to what we can do. But remember, sometimes the answer will shake you to the very core!


My Reflections Regarding BYU Removing "One Nation Under God"

The last few weeks have been both emotional and contemplative for me as I have watched the public respond to the removal of all my artwork from the BYU Bookstore. I want to take a few moments and walk through my emotions in regards to going public with this issue.

When I made the decision to pull the rest of my art from the BYU Bookstore, I felt like I was about to say goodbye to an old friend. I figured that I could either remove the rest of my art and say nothing, or I could let the public know why they would no longer see me at Women’s Conference, BYU Education Week, etc. I prayerfully considered what I was doing and felt good about the decision.

I began by posting on my blog and Facebook about what happened at BYU and it didn’t take long before many began to react to the news. Many of the major papers in Utah weighed in on the story. Soon, the news grew outside of our state as many expressed astonishment at BYU for rejecting a “conservative” image such as this.

When I made my decision to go public I knew that I would pay a heavy price. Even without the One Nation Under God, I sell a significant amount of art at BYU. I expect to lose thousands of dollars in annual sales for this decision. I knew that BYU would probably be praised by the rest of the country for rejecting my painting. (If you read any of the comments from the Salt Lake Tribune or Huffington Post article you can see that.) In short, I knew I would be a very unpopular guy for drawing attention to this issue. (But when has popularity ever been a factor in doing the right thing.)

My only regret over the last two weeks is the number of people that have taken this issue out of context. Some have condemned BYU as a whole, and I don’t feel this way. My issue is with only a couple of individuals.

I hope people will remember that even if BYU feels a need to remain politically neutral, they must stand firm on conservative principles that make us a moral and righteous people. The painting, “One Nation Under God” is not meant to be politically correct. It does not endorse a political party. It only asks the viewer to consider what is at stake in our country. Every American should decide whether they will support our Constitution which defines a limited federal government. As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If anything good comes from all this I hope it will be to draw attention to the question…will you STAND FOR TRUTH or be caught up in the tide of political correctness that is sweeping over this nation?


BYU Professor Writes Letter About Censored Painting

The BYU Bookstore has sent a form letter in response to anyone’s inquiry regarding the removal of "One Nation Under God." This particular professor at BYU wrote an interesting letter to the Bookstore and made some excellent points. Although the painting, “One Nation Under God” is meant to be for all Christians, it has special meaning to those who are Mormon because of our belief that the Constitution is divinely inspired.

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Richardson [mailto:mnarich@juno.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 10:40 AM
To: Web Team
Subject: "One Nation Under God" [from unicomm.byu.edu/contactus form]

I am a BYU alumnus (B.S. and Ph.D.) and faculty member who is puzzled by hearing recently that Jon McNaughton's "One Nation Under God" will no longer be sold at the BYU bookstore. I'm not writing in protest, but to seek understanding. I felt that this painting was an interesting symbolic representation of D&C 101:80, which indicates that the Lord himself established the Constitution by the hands of wise men he raised up for that purpose. The painting also symbolically represents other doctrinal and prophetic statements.

Although there are elements of the painting, primarily represented by the foreground figures, that appear to lean politically conservative, there is no dearth of both conservative and liberal material available at the Bookstore in other forms of media. For example, "The 5000 Year Leap," depicted in the painting and consonant with the painting's message, was written by a former BYU religion professor and I believe can still be purchased at the BYU bookstore alongside other works of the same author such as "The Magesty of God's Law: It's coming to America" and "The Cleansing of America" (On the back cover: "Preparing America for the Kingdom of God"). Other controversial titles available at the bookstore include: "The God Strategy: How religion became a political weapon in America," "Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the triumph of ignorance," "BS (Blowing Smoke): Why the Right keeps serving up whack-job fantasies about the plot to euthanize grandma, outlaw Christmas, and turn Junior into a raging homosexual," "Republican Gomorrah," "The Roots of Obama's Rage," "Death by Liberalism," "Obama Zombies," etc.

It's seems that print media has a privileged status at the bookstore regarding expression of controversial ideas. If a similar balance is not maintained in visual media, is it the fault of a particular artist (who is also a BYU alumnus with a long record of sales at the bookstore), the fault of the bookstore, or the fault of the market/customers?

With all that said, what in the painting is particularly offensive or even controversial given doctrinal statements about both the divine and diabolical elements at war in America? Is it the judge who represents rulings that may be problematic for the Constitution (which usually divide not only the Supreme Court but also the American public, and which division itself may threaten national unity "under God")? Is it the college professor who represents the documented secularization of American education? Is it the woman considering abortion, who appears not only to be of two minds herself, but also seems to represent a divided America? Where, specifically, does this painting promote a political ideology that is dissonant with LDS or even general Christian beliefs? Where does it promote or denigrate a specific political party?

---------- Original Message ----------
From: Web Team
To: Mike Richardson
Subject: RE: "One Nation Under God" [from unicomm.byu.edu/contactus form]
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2011 10:58:43 -0600


Thank you for your message regarding Jon McNaughton and his decision not to have his art sold at the Bookstore. As is true with most of our vendors, the Bookstore purchases artwork and sells it to its customers. It is the Bookstore's prerogative to determine what is purchased. It may be helpful for you to know that the Bookstore focuses on religious art and adheres to a school policy of political neutrality.

BYU Web Team


Thank you for the clarification regarding the bookstore's focus on religious art. It would also be helpful if you responded to the final paragraph of my last message. My understanding is that McNaughton decided not to sell his other artwork at the bookstore after a decision was made by the bookstore to no longer sell "One Nation Under God," which had been available at the bookstore for quite some time. At one time the painting warranted its own prominent display. My main question is, what in the painting is particularly partisan? Or what in the painting goes against or beyond any public statements leaders of the LDS Church have made regarding political issues such as Supreme Court decisions (e.g. Oaks), the secularization of education (e.g. Benson), or unnecessary abortion (many)? If it is the "5000 year leap" that is problematic, that book is a product of a former BYU religious educator, whose works continue to be available at the bookstore, and who has been publicly eulogized by LDS leaders (e.g. Monson). The painting is clearly religious, and if it expresses political ideas, its politics haven't changed in the time it has been sold at the bookstore. Have the bookstore's politics changed?

Again, my intent is to simply understand the reason behind this decision.


(Later Mike wrote the following)

Another thought I had after I sent the last message is that the issues you depicted were religious long before they were politicized. The freedoms guaranteed by the constitution have roots at least as old as the Protestant Reformation, and perhaps as old as the birth of Christianity itself (e.g. "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's"). The religious issues surrounding abortion existed long before Roe v. Wade, and tensions between religion and secularism pre-date our nation's founding.

So my question is, when religious issues are later politicized, must religious expressions on these issues suddenly cease? For example, marriage, an ancient religious tradition has become politicized of late. Will paintings depicting traditional marriage be banned? Or must they be balanced by paintings that depict non-traditional unions in a positive light? And if some political movement aims at taking the right of religions to perform marriages or adoptions, must artistic expressions supportive of religion's role in the family be removed (e.g. pictures of temples, traditional families, etc.)?

The issues you've depicted should be "safe" in a BYU context because Church leaders have spoken publicly about them already. As I've suggested in my e-mails, I also question whether the views you expressed are necessarily partisan. I know both democrats and republicans who would say religious rights have been hampered by the Supreme Court, both democrats and republicans who oppose abortion (even pro-choice people tend to say they are not pro-abortion, only pro-choice--and you've depicted the woman as though she is in the process of choosing), and both democrats and republicans who admit that education has become secularized. They may differ about the solutions, but few would argue that there are no problems regarding these issues. These issues have unquestionably divided the nation, and thus threaten unity under God or under ANY name. There are also both democrats and republicans who think the constitution is an inspired document. If one party favors these views more than the other that doesn't make a stance on these views inherently anti-republican, or anti-democrat. The issues are the issues and not necessarily linked to the parties. So the bookstore can be politically neutral regarding parties and still sell your painting, but do they really want to argue that they are neutral regarding religious ideas that have lately become politicized? There's a can of worms...