Members of an Oklahoma Catholic church are up in arms over a new crucifix, which some claim portrays the giant schlong of the son of God.
The crucifix is a large rendition of a San Damiano cross, a common Catholic icon originating in Assisi, Italy. Comparison photos (thumbnail link) to other San Damiano renditions can be found at the link as well.
"There are a couple people who have left the parish,” said the Rev. Philip Seeton, the church’s pastor. "There are people in the parish who don’t like it and have stayed.”
Critics of the crucifix take issue with what appears to be a large penis covering Jesus’ abdominal area. Seeton said the portion of the crucifix in question is meant to be Jesus’ abdomen "showing distension” — not a penis.
Seeton said, "I’ve had people who have vocally said that that’s what they see there. I’ve had people who have been just as vocal who said that’s not what they’re seeing there.”
Janet Jaime, a local iconography artist who designed the crucifix, had no comment.
"I think it was painted according to the certain specific rules of iconography and church art,” Seeton said of the crucifix.
The crucifix is about 10 feet tall. It has been hanging above the altar since Feb. 21.
"The crucifix is the straw on the camel’s back,” said Cook, who has attended the church for 35 years. "I think it’s an embarrassment to our Lord. I think it’s an embarrassment to our parishioners. And I think it’s an embarrassment to our visitors.”
Molly Jenkins, who is not a member of the church, said she attended a funeral at the church recently and immediately noticed the crucifix.
"I was appalled at the sexualization of Christ,” said Jenkins, who is not Catholic. Jenkins said she contacted a Catholic friend to ask whether such crucifixes are common.
Her friend, Seannene Smith, said she visited the church Friday and also was disturbed.
"I was horrified,” Smith said. "I believe in freedom of expression. I believe in artistic freedom. I believe that a church is a holy place, and I certainly don’t want people telling anyone how to worship, but I was shocked, stunned, and if I hadn’t been prepared already, I think I would have just been ill.”
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