4.29.2011

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

Hello,

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.

Thanks,
Wendy
BYU Web Team


Wendy,

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.

Mike



(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...


45 comments:

  1. Thought provoking indeed. I think he said exactly what a lot of us have been thinking, but haven't been able to express correctly. Very well said! Asked...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nisa, I couldn't have said it better.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for posting this. My thoughts mirror those posted.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know both Democrats and Republicans who agree it is a problem that we have poverty in this country. Does that mean that BYU should sell, as "religious art," my painting showing Jesus rejecting Ayn Rand and Rand Paul, and accepting somebody holding a French socialized medicine ID card and somebody else wearing a button saying "communism now!"? Good grief. This is whole line of argument about it being non-political is rather disingenuous after the artist himself wrote a whole blog post calling the painting 'conservative' right in the title.

    ReplyDelete
  5. PS: No, I haven't actually made a painting like that, nor do I plan to. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. This i a very nice blog and is having the amazing paintings. I want to make the same paintings as am also interested in the
    Painting and Decorating
    . This article inspires me for the making of nice blogs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a very nice blog about paintings,I rally appreciate with this blog and i hope it is helpful for my delray beach air duct cleaning business.It provide best cleaning services.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for such informative blog about Censored Painting. It really prove worthwhile in my Groupon NYC business.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is a very nice article about Censored Painting and it was really creative arts. I would like it and i hope this blog is useful for my Parkland Air Duct Cleaning business.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a very informative blog abut religion and censored paintings. I really like it and i hope this info is helpful for my Cooper City Air Duct Cleaning business.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It is a very valuable article about One Nation Under God. I would really like it and it really prove worthwhile in my Evening Primrose Oil Benefits business.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It is a very interesting Letter About Censored Painting and this painting gives a interesting symbolic representation about creativity of arts. I like it, and it's really helpful for my Air Conditioning Service rockwall business.

    ReplyDelete
  13. An art has discovered a new layer to a painting and it's really very attractive. This blog is really workout in my Air cleaner business.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Nice posting, it really prove worthwhile for my Air Conditioning Repair West Palm Beach, FL business. It provides good air conditioning and heating service for Residential customers.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have one of my Ac service The Woodlands business. It provides air conditioning repair and heating service for residential and commercial customers. I hope you like it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Microdermabrasion will brighten your skin, smooth it out and our face will have a fresher look and feel, but you need to have realistic expectations. So our Chemical Peels business is also encourages the production of a new underlying layer of skin cells with higher levels of collagen, which further improves your skin’s appearance.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Our Employee Scheduling Software business,it is a ShiftPlanning allows you to schedule smarter by letting you work with the most current and accurate data. Know who is available, who is on overtime, who are your top employees, who is on vacation and more.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Watch College Basketball Online games are available in many different media formats including: Macromedia Flash, Windows Media Player, streaming video and QuickTime. This allows fans who access the internet through a PC or a Mac access to online games.

    ReplyDelete
  19. A lot of hockey fans want to watch more hockey then what is on their local cable channels. Most people get one game per night, if they are lucky they get two games. Our one of my Watch Hockey Online games,see and enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. All of us want to keep our families as safe as possible. So the best technique in home security solutions with an experienced and reliable Locksmith CT service. I have one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As a full-service HVAC repair and maintenance company, we offer our services to you around the clock, 24-7. Whenever you need to have your air ducts cleaned, you can count on our highly-skilled HVAC technicians. I hope you like my Cool Your Air AC Repair Miami business.

    ReplyDelete
  22. When it comes time to search for an HVAC technician. Our Cool Your Air AC Repair Wilton Manors, we are always honest and upfront about our fees and services.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Cool Your Air AC Repair Pompano Beach business, we can provide you with top-tier services for your heating and cooling system. We are a local family-owned business with licensed, bonded and insured HVAC techs that can work on a variety of systems, new and old.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The compressor may be overheating or the condensing unit may have stopped working. Regardless of the problem, Cool Your Air AC Repair Pembroke Pines certified technicians will repair your air conditioner and get your cool air running as quickly as possible. It is one of the best service provider.

    ReplyDelete
  25. When your air conditioner starts to degrade, your system will work harder to produce the same result, it means that your electric bills will be higher than normal. Maintaining your air conditioner and heater reduces its degradation rate and allows your equipment to run better and closer to its original condition at a lower cost to you. Our one of my air conditioning Manassas, VA business is one of the best service provider.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Cool Your Air AC Repair Miramar offers an extensive duct cleaning service to ensure that your home is free of unwanted allergens and through your HVAC system. We also use specialized tools, such as a compressed air hose air whip, to help ensure that your ducts are completely cleaned.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for sharing, we offer our Cool Your Air AC Repair Hollywood services to you around the clock, 24-7. Whenever you need to have your air ducts cleaned, you can count on our highly-skilled HVAC technicians.

    ReplyDelete
  28. You may be overpaying your utility bill because of a Cool Your Air AC Repair Boca Raton that is not running efficiently. Regular checks are important. If you think about how long the AC unit works when it is hot, it makes sense that you cannot just turn it on and forget about it for months on end.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Our one of my Ac Repair Phoenix business. It provide best to fix and repair your air conditioner, rather than trying to sell you a new air conditioner, like many air conditioning contractors.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Indoor Air Quality are very important for people who suffer from allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivity, and other respiratory illnesses and it control dangerous viruses, bacteria, and mold spores.

    ReplyDelete
  31. When it comes time to search for an HVAC technician. Our one of my Air Conditioning Katy business provide good job in the field of HVAC.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Our Cool Your Air AC Repair Cooper City business is one of the best service provider in the field of AC, it includes regular maintenance and service calls that usually will prevent emergency repairs.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Making the most of Cool Your Air AC Repair Dania Beach includes regular maintenance and service calls that usually will prevent emergency repairs.You may be overpaying your utility bill because of a Dania Beach air conditioner that is not running efficiently. Regular checks are important.

    ReplyDelete
  34. We are full service air conditioning and heating contractors providing service, repair, and maintenance to keep your home or business comfortable throughout the year. Our Heating Portland experienced technicians service all major brands of HVAC equipments.

    ReplyDelete
  35. We strive to provide the most efficient service, the best rates, and the friendliest customer service. These qualities make us your top choice for Cool Your Air AC Repair Davie services.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Acumen Air Conditioning Baltimore understands that there are many factors that influence the design of the air conditioning system . our air conditioning systems are properly designed and sized to provide maximum comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Transmission Hollywood FL repair all makes and models of transmissions, both foreign and domestic. Our technicians are ASE certified and we are a member of the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association.

    ReplyDelete
  38. When it comes to Internet Marketing, Our one of my Los Angeles Internet Marketing,it is one of the bestoption for online marketing and it helps to to sell anything online as well as collect payment online.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Your post is certainly one of the best source of valuable information every reader must follow. Glad to hear a lot from you soon. Keep on sharing! Thanks

    Lincolnwood heating

    ReplyDelete
  40. We offer you the best Wooden Gates of different sizes, styles and designs at reasonable prices to suit your budget. We use Scandinavian red wood to make all of our gates, and our manufactured and assembled by hand.

    ReplyDelete
  41. AC Service Suwanee GA is one of the best energy efficient A/C unit, you'll enjoy complete comfort on the hottest days of the year and lower your cooling costs at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I appreciate your post which you have put in this blog. it's really very important for people those who are interested in the field of arts and craft . Magnetic Crack Detector

    ReplyDelete
  43. I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Country Lakes Air Conditioning

    ReplyDelete
  44. Escorts in Mumbai | Mumbai Escort
    : Jessica Kapoor female escorts Mumbai glad to introduce our high profile escorts in Mumbai, to deliver high quality escort service in Mumbai.

    ReplyDelete