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?


  1. When one person stands up for Moral's, Truth, that person sets himself up to be a target. And many have shot at you. However BYU, it is sad that the Book Store has chosen unwisely about your one painting. Yes there are liberal/progressives even in BYU and LDS that is freedom of choice, It is sad that your politically neutral picture "One Nation under God" Has been attacked by those who feel threatened... Your painting, story it tells is a Moral issue. Right vs. Wrong. Good vs. Evil. This simple, statement makes friends and enemies. It is regrettable that the intellectuals at BYU choose to Not be neutral on the issue and seem to have bowed to the influences of the worlds ideals in this matter.
    Just a sign of the times... I still plan on sending as many of my children to the BYU/Church school systems if we can afford it. As they are still more Moral than the majority of schools. It is interesting that those who came happily to the side of BYU's choice are liberal/progressive think tanks. oops...
    Well hang in there. I hope your works sale in a greater way... or that you will be blessed for choosing the higher ground.
    God Speed brother.

  2. Posted to Facebook as well:
    A word of encouragement Jon; when Christ walked among men, He used parables to convey a message. He was often misunderstood, even ridiculed and eventually ostracized and rejected. The medium you use to convey a message, is art (a talent which you received from God). Remember, they didn't accept Jesus, because his message seared them in their hearts. Likewise, the world today, doesn't want to hear they are wrong. That puts you in good company! Please continue to do the great work you are doing, and never, never capitulate. You are a man with a mission!! May God continue to bless you!!

  3. Well, I am a faithful member and a convert of 15 years. I find no fault in any of this. I am not neutral as I teach in our High Priest Quorum. I give the message every time I get up, that we all need to wake up or we will lose our freedom to worship and do our work in the light. Forcing issues into darkness is exactly what Satan would want, then He has control of the issues. Our issues are the same as they were back in the Book of Mormon... complacent and happy. We need to be the watchmen on the tower and love our liberty more than life.

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  5. the only thing worse than your art is how awful your ideas are

  6. Jon,
    What has bothered me is how mean spirited people have been to you on YOUR BLOG by attacking you personally, atttacking your God-given talent as an artist and I am mystified by people who take up so much time out of their life to be so nasty and negative. The old saying of "If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all" rings so true when it comes to people who are not interested in you or what your work stands for. I pray they really do get a life that iminates a positive spirit within and toward others. God bless and prosper you Jon beyond your wildest dreams.

  7. Have you read the Twilight books? It's essentially romance novels (or porn) for Mormons. They shamelessly cater to a very specific demographic and sacrifice credibility and respect doing so. No writer worth their salt believes Stephanie Meyer is a legitimate author. What you paint is essentially the same. It's porn for conservative Mormons and they could only love it more if they were consuming Xanax by the carton.

    The most accomplished artists who've painted Christ depicted Him with children, the sick, and His followers. None of them used our Lord and Savior to push a political agenda. They did not need to. I'm guessing before you did your art sold poorly. So, congratulations on identifying your target demographic and going straight after them. I bet sales went through the roof when you did.

    Also, calling your "work" fine art is like calling a hot pocket "gourmet." Please stop.

  8. God bless you Mr. McNaughton.

  9. any news is good news in hollywood! don't let those who naysay discourage you. you're obviously making a difference or they wouldn't be bothering. even if i disagree with you (hypothetically) i have no right to silence you. those who would are inspired from below. keep it up!