Baptist Church Votes to Remove Jesus Statue
A South Carolina church decided a Jesus Statue on the exterior of its building must go because it was ‘causing confusion’ about its beliefs.
When does a Baptist church decide a Jesus statue needs to be removed? When they decide it makes them look “too Catholic.”
I am not making this up.
The church sent a letter to the man (and former member) who designed the artwork. In the letter, they explained the statue was causing confusion.
You can see an exterior of the church at the website FindAGrave.com here. The artwork consists of a statue of Jesus Christ appearing to “walk out” of the church, a feature the artist explained was to symbolize the Great Commission, as well as a serious of panels that depict events from Christ’s life.
You can get a more detailed look at the statue here, at the website of The State newspaper in Columbia.
The church, which sits across the street from a Lutheran church, has a street sign right at the street that clearly labels it as a Baptist church:
A Facebook user who apparently knows the artist posted photos of the church’s letter to the artist as well as his response. The letter from the church reportedly said, in part:
“We understand that this is not a Catholic icon, however, people perceive it in these terms.”
The church also claimed that because of this, it was “bringing into question the theology and core values” of the church.
I’m not sure how that’s really possible.
I was raised in the Southern Baptist church. I can’t think of any reason that a Baptist church — or anyone who would intentionally visit a Baptist church — would be put off by a statue of Jesus Christ. Far from being a “Catholic icon,” Christ Himself is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
So how any Baptists would see artwork depicting the life of Jesus Christ as “non-Protestant” is beyond me. And if we’re supposed to focus on what’s “in the heart” and not judge a book by its cover, aren’t those of us who are Christian supposed to judge what’s happening inside the church as the litmus test of the church’s “theology and core values”? I would think that would be the far better measure of how well any church is living up to the expectations of the denomination of which it is part.
The church notified the artist of their intent to have the art removed, apparently with the intention of giving him a chance to claim it.
In his response, which appears in the same Facebook post, he states that in the 11 years the work has been on the church’s exterior, no one has “ever been ‘confused’” about who the church is or suggested (at least to him) that the pieces are “Catholic in nature.” In addition to that, he called out the church on a second problem:
“…and, more disturbing, singling out the Catholic church in such a manner as to suggest that their denomination is deficient in theology and lacking in Christian core values to the point that you wish to prevent or avoid any perceived association with them.”
He called the statue and the reliefs that surround it as a “teaching tool.”
The church’s pastor told The State that it’s not a “social justice issue” but rather a “church governance issue,” adding that the congregation voted 131 to 40 to take the artwork down:
“We just want to be able to worship the way our doctrine asks and let others worship the way their doctrine asks.”
It seems to me that it could have been a “teaching moment” inside the church. It could have been (and should have been) a moment at which the church dissected its theology and core values, perhaps in a series of sermons to tackle the issues and any questions being raised.
What’s said and practiced inside the walls should, in my opinion, be of far greater importance and have a far greater impact, than what’s depicted outside its walls.
And let’s look at it this way: if the image of Jesus Christ isn’t appropriate on a Christian church, what is? Why would a Jesus statue make a church look like a place worshippers wouldn’t want to go?
I just don’t understand it.
As a footnote to this story, The State reported that another church has said it will take the artwork, but it’s not clear which church will take it or when that will happen.