Manx churchgoers call for artist’s prosecution
An odd one, this, and not a story I’ve seen elsewhere – members of a church congregation in the West are trying to have a Peel artist prosecuted over his work.
A closed Facebook group for Living Hope Church members has twice now tried to round up people to make complaints to the police.
The artist lives on Derby Road in Peel, and has a window display he calls the Sunnyside Art Gallery.
In December, he produced this – a post-Apocalyptic nativity scene:
It didn’t take long before it was spotted, and the church group objected to it.
They then took to the closed Facebook group they run here:
What they wanted was more members to make complaints to the police to try to have the man behind the gallery prosecuted, although it’s difficult to say what crime may have been committed.
I spoke to the artist about this at the end of last year, and he wasn’t really very happy about it. Apparently, he’s had complaints before, the police came round to speak to him and then a decision was made to take no further action against him.
As I say, it’s difficult to see what offence might have been committed.
Early this year, the artist changed the display after another visit from police officers:
This time, though, there was a special message for the people who’d pushed for him to be charged over the displays:
I’ve spoken to the artist, who says he wants to maintain a dignified silence rather than complain to the media. He was more than a little surprised a journalist might be interested.
But it’s a great story: because we’re entering into the realms of religious censorship and blasphemy. The displays aren’t obscene, they simply portray someone’s vision of one specific religion. Trying to classify that as hate speech will have far-reaching consequences – and it’s especially hypocritical for conservative church members to claim victim status.
Fortunately, as things stand, these displays are not classed as potentially criminal in nature. The artist remains uncharged, and so far all of the complaints have come to nothing.
Long may that continue.