I Admit, I Was Wrong About Christians
I used to make the argument that there’s something fundamentally wrong with Islam because we know that many Muslims will instantly resort to acting like savages when a piece or art or cartoon offends them. After all, we don’t see Hindus burning embassies and organizing by the millions to shut down newspapers in democratic countries. We don’t see Jews blowing others up in response to Holocaust denial. We don’t see Christians acting crazy in response to artwork like “Piss Christ,” do we?
Well, as I read the Guardian online today, I found out I was wrong.
On Saturday, around 1,000 Christian protesters marched through Avignon to the gallery. The protest group included a regional councillor for the extreme-right Front National, which recently scored well in the Vaucluse area in local elections. The gallery immediately stepped up security, putting plexiglass in front of the photograph and assigning two gallery guards to stand in front of it.
But on Palm Sunday morning, four people in sunglasses aged between 18 and 25 entered the exhibition just after it opened at 11am. One took a hammer out of his sock and threatened the guards with it. A guard grabbed another man around the waist but within seconds the group managed to take a hammer to the plexiglass screen and slash the photograph with another sharp object, thought to be a screwdriver or ice-pick. They also smashed another work, which showed the hands of a meditating nun.
What a shame. Apparently, we can never count on religious people to keep their feelings under control. We must always be prepared for a kind of reaction that stems from the fact that these people think they know some amazing details about the supernatural. We must realize that any criticism of their power to do so could lead them to harm us.
Secular society is quick to condemn the actions of these fundamentalist Christians, but it must hold all religions to the same standard. If it is unacceptable for Christians to act this way in response to blasphemy, it is unacceptable for any religious group to riot, to destroy property, or to harm human life–no matter how their religious figures are depicted.