Riley Harris, a student at the University of Southern Maine, had a straightforward assignment for his art class: Take a book and re-purpose it into something else.
So he took a Bible, made the pages look like flames, and added Satanic images to it. He called it “Unholy Bible: Very Revised Standard Edition.”
Is it offensive? You’ll find far more offensive things inside that book, but art is subjective. That’s the point. Harris had his own reasons for what he did, none of which have to do with blasphemy.
“I was thinking a lot about questioning authority in general,” said Harris, a sophomore studying art and entrepreneurship. “People question different types of authority, but for some reason religious authority seems too taboo to question, so I thought I would give it a shot.”
Now the same conservatives who decry “snowflakes” and censorship are blowing a gasket over how any public school could allow a student to desecrate a Bible. In this case, the biggest whiner is some random student’s daddy.
After the piece by Riley Harris was displayed outside a classroom, one young girl who was part of a church gathering at the Wishcamper Center noticed the piece, prompting her father, Charlie Flynn, to slam the display, asserting, “This is someone’s sacred text being desecrated, destroyed and displayed in a public place. I couldn’t help but feel no one’s sacred text should be treated that way. I think it’s very inappropriate and repugnant.”
…Flynn concluded, “If I saw a Koran with pig blood on it I would certainly call someone, or a Torah with unclean foods on it. This is a Bible with Satan’s image put over Jesus’ image and around Christmastime. I don’t understand why that would be viewable in an institution of higher learning. This is USM, a school that services the community.”
I assure you Harris hasn’t desecrated the Bible as much as Donald Trump has, but these people don’t actually care about the content of the book. They only care about symbolism. It’s the same reason they’ll trash Colin Kaepernick for kneeling to call attention to police brutality while saying nothing about a president who leads us into war.
In any case, there’s nothing sacred about any book. Harris is an atheist so the Bible isn’t some magical book for him. The professor didn’t force students to rip up a Bible. The school is correctly standing by the “free speech” defense.
There’s a legitimate discussion to be had about whether a Qur’an could be treated the same way and how we’d all be more reluctant to do that, but the Christians using that argument aren’t helping their cause by pretending like their religion’s honor has been destroyed because one student used the Bible for a class assignment.
It’s not that big of a deal. It’s not even a little deal. It’s just another case of Christians angry because someone didn’t pay their God the respect that only they believe He deserves.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)