Bible 'Art' Exhibit Seen as Defacing

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LONDON -- A controversial art exhibit in Glasgow, Scotland, is causing a stir among Christians in the United Kingdom.

The display encouraged visitors to "write themselves back into the Bible," leading to what many called offensive remarks written on the pages.

It's part of an exhibit entitled "Made in God's Image" and was devised by a minister from a church that reaches out to gays and lesbians.

Art gallery visitors were urged to write on the pages of the Bible and express their feelings if they felt they had been excluded from it.

On the first page of the book of Genesis, one woman wrote, " I am bi, female and proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this." Another wrote the Bible is "the biggest lie in human history."

Others called God a fascist and included obscenities.

Earlier this summer, members of the Zion Baptist Church peacefully protested the defacing of the Bible displayed at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art.

More than 100 people gathered outside the gallery to protest what they claimed was an act of vandalism, but for the most part, the church in the U.K. has been silent.

Unlike the Pakistan incident, there was no violence there, no murder or mayhem or uncontrolled anger.

However, the Evangelical Alliance's Justin Thacker says gallery curators did receive some rude and offensive e-mails.

"There's no place for that whatsoever," he said. "Now there is a place, a rightful place for Christians to standup and say this is what we believe and we don't think you should scandalize the Bible in this way or deliberately seek to offend Christians in this way.

"But we ourselves must ensure the way we make those points is gracious and not offensive in itself," Thacker added.

Most of the outrage over the defaced Bible was muted.

The Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art responded to the protests by placing the Bible under a glass case.

Instead of writing on the pages of the Bible, visitors were urged to write comments on sheets of paper provided along side it.

"A compromise solution has been found," Thacker said. "The Bible is still on display, people can still write comments, but the really offensive, the really rude ones, will now be kind of weeded out and I think that is the right response."

The controversial exhibit came at a time when a recent report found that Bible knowledge in the U.K. is declining.

Only one in 10 Brits can name all of the Ten Commandments and young people say they view the Bible as "old fashioned."

Some believe the U.K. is losing its Christian heritage, while making concessions to the Islamic faith and the growing number of Muslim immigrants who live there.

One official with the Catholic Church said he wondered if the museum and Bible exhibit organizers would have been so willing to have the Koran defaced.

*Originally published August 22, 2009

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