Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I don't know how to love Him

Imagery in Bastrop school mural stirs controversy
Religious symbols, historical scenes cause some to call for painting's removal.

The painting in question, a student project completed in 2003, adorns a wall in the corridor leading to the Bastrop High School gym. It depicts the sometimes unpleasant history of the town, showing scenes of a Mexican and Comanche raid and slaves working in a cotton field, as well as unifying visions of children of different ethnicities reaching out to one another.
Patty Green, the art teacher who coordinated the project, said she doesn't understand why the issue is coming up now. Austin muralist Raul Valdez organized a group of Bastrop students to paint the mural using a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bastrop Association for the Arts.

"It sat up there for five years, and nobody had a problem with it
," said Green, the head of the Bastrop association.

Bastrop resident Lauren Hansell, who made the original complaint, homeschools her children but visits the school on Fridays to pray with students at the flagpole.

A Christian, Hansell said she wants the mural removed because of the war and slavery scenes and depictions of Buddha and ancient gods.

Among the images on the mural are an Aztec sun, ancient Egypt's King Tutankhamen, Buddha and Shiva, a Hindu deity, dancing on a demon of ignorance.

Hansell, who at first interpreted Shiva's dance as a message in favor of abortion, said laws that bar Christian symbols from public schools should apply to the mural.

The First Amendment, which bans government-sponsored religious activities even as it protects religious expression from government interference, allows students to pray during school in informal settings, according to U.S. Department of Education guidelines.
So after 5 years of the mural being displayed a woman who has nothing to do with the school except for proselytizing every week on school grounds complains and engenders a controversy.

"Dancing on a demon of ignorance" indeed.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak