Before I start this article, I must say that I have a thick skin and I am rarely offended. I give space to people’s ideas, religious preferences, political affiliations, and even crude humor. So, I was shocked at how strongly I reacted to a Christmas picture in Siegessäule, a magazine whose tagline is “we are queer Berlin.” The image depicts Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. Their clothing evokes the trans flag, with Joseph wearing pink, Mary wearing blue, and Baby Jesus dressed in white. However, Mary has never looked this way before—in this picture, Mary is a bearded man. The European Union’s LGBTQ+ goodwill ambassador Riccardo Simonetti posed as the cross-dressing Mary. The picture is offensive and sacrilegious in view of the fact that the Scriptures say Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, a woman.
The United States has very different ideas than Europe does about both sexuality and speaking about faith. For this, I am very thankful. Just this year, the leadership of the European Union made a list of words that people should not use. The majority of words they listed as offensive were words connected with Christianity, including Christmas and nativity. These guidelines were eventually withdrawn after protest from many people and organizations, including the Vatican.
But the other thing that made me very upset was the reality of a question posed by a journalist: “Where is the Christian protest?” While the Vatican eventually issued a statement, people did not immediately stand up to say that the European Union could not mock or try to erase holidays and traditions. There was no protest outside the EU building or strong statements from the Patriarch of Constantinople or the World Council of Churches.
Christians are afraid that if we protest, we are not showing love to people who believe differently or we are going to offend someone. Everyone can mock Christianity and use Christian symbols in derisive and sacrilegious ways. Then the perpetrators take our silence as agreement and come back later with something worse. Why would I say that? I say that because, when the preamble of the European Union was written, they rejected any mention of Christianity, even in the context of European culture or history. While there were some protests at the time, they kept the original wording. Ever since, they have moved in direct opposition to everything that is Christian while calling Christians haters, anachronists, retrogrades, and people against the movement of history. They argue that they are moving with history, and Christians are keeping it from happening.
The idea of using art to push the envelope is nothing new—Andre Serrano’s 1987 photograph entitled “Piss Jesus” shows us this. But both artists and politicians continue to push the envelope of blasphemy, mocking Christianity, and being offensive for the sake of offense. They have the liberty to blaspheme Christ and the Holy Family and while we are upset and offended, we do nothing about it.
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