Comments about ‘Artist Jon McNaughton pulls political, religious art from BYU Bookstore’

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Published: Wednesday, April 27 2011 8:00 p.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

The painting is very offensive and I'm glad BYU did the right thing and removed it.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

It doesn't sound offensive. I'd like to see it. Too bad the article doesn't provide a link or a photo. Last week the Dnews had a photo of a controversial mural in Holladay that showed the SL temple on fire. How about updating this story with a photo so readers can come to their own conclusion?

Kearns, UT

Stenar - do you believe that anything that offends you should be removed? Just from the BYU bookstore, or from life in general?

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

It's amazing how frightened people are of an idea, whether it comes from the left or the right. We foolishly brandish the term offensive like a sword to placate our sense of outrage against those who may have an alternative point of view.

What's more troubling is that this type of idea suppression runs rampant at American universities...the ostensible last bastions of free thought and supposed protectors of intellectual sovereignty.

Salt Lake City, UT

It is to bad that even BYU is listening to the politically correct crowd where only liberal ideas are tolerated. If you are offended by political speech you have no right enjoying the freedoms are country was founded upon.

Lilburn, GA

Hmmm, my previous comment didn't get posted. Just slow or did Deseret News not like what I said? I'll repost it later.

Stenar: The painting depicts what is happening in this country. Wake up!!!

What is it called when things that are true or depict the truth are being censored/banned? Is that called Communism? Is the Bible or the Book of Mormon the next to go? Perhaps not from BYU but what about other bookstores?

FREE AGENCY, folks, one of the most important things that we teach our youth!
BYU Bookstore is taking it away!
This painting is only offensive to those who are leftists. You know, the ones that call everyone else "racist".
I fear for our country! PRAY PRAY PRAY!!!

Eagle Mountain, UT

I have seen it and I don't consider it offensive. I would not own a copy as I don't like that kind of art BUT that is me and what I like/dislike. My wife, an artist, and many of her local artist friends loved the piece. They were upset that BYU stopped selling it.
I think the story says everything when the former manager of the BYU Bookstore, a businessman saw value in selling it to those that wanted it compared to the professor who was offended by it and didn't feel it was right to have it in the store.
It took me back a few years ago when I was retiring from the military and applied at BYU for a teaching position. I easily had the credentials and the experience but was told point blank by an assistant dean that sense I was military maybe I should find a job in business instead of at BYU. BYU is NOT the conservative school I did my undergraduate work at years ago.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: SME | 6:53 a.m. April 28, 2011

Do you disagree with BYU's position that "It's the bookstore's prerogative to determine what the bookstore purchases and sells"? That's like telling a clothing store they must sell products they don't feel are appropriate.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Visit the McNaughton web site and see the painting for yourselves. Click on any image in that painting and get the artist's reason for including that image.

Unless there are 'facts not in evidence', I can't image why BYU would ban that painting from their Book Store. It depicts in a painting what Nephi and other prophets wrote about in the Book of Mormon.

How is depicting 'opposition in all things' offensive?

How is depicting mocking from those who rejected Christ offensive?

How is depicting corruption in Government offensive?

How is depicting remorse for sin offensive?

Jon McNaughton depicted all of that and much more in his painting.

Maybe BYU thinks that those subjects should only be read about, by flashlight, under a blanket instead of allowing a fine artist to paint those concepts and then putting that painting where people could ponder how far America has turned from its founding principles.

A Guy With A Brain
Enid, OK

All this painting shows is what is true:

1 - God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, inspired the U.S. Constitution.

2 - America is being rapidly destroyed by clueless liberals who neither understand nor value what America was meant to be; their vision being clouded by selfishness and fear because they have largely abandoned the very being, God, who offers to be their strength.

If liberals take over BYU we are in big, BIG trouble....

Park City, UT

The BYU book store can sell what it wants. It's a benefit of the free enterprise system.

In my opinion, that painting is one of the most absurd things I've ever seen. However, I would fight to my last breath for the "artist's" right to produce and sell it. You will never see that attitude from the so called "conservatives".

Buena Park, CA

I've seen this particular creation. This article both disturbs and encourages me; it disturbs me to know that BYU's book store did sell such artless pandering to an extremism that conflicts with the restored gospel and it encourages me to know that they stopped facilitating this conflict.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah


You had me until the last sentence. Do you believe that 'liberals' allow discourse? Do you believe that 'liberals' champion free speech?


Art is an expression. A skilled artist has the ability to depict in pictorial form feelings that most of us leave unexpressed.

I was fortunate enough to visit some of the great churches in Belgium where paintings by the masters were hung for all to see. Many of those paintings depict man's struggle to accept Christ for what He is, not for what people want Him to be. Those paintings inspire us. Those paintings provoke us. Those paintings change us.

From the responses on this thread, it appears that Jon McNaughton has the ability to inspire some people, to provoke others and to change us all.

It's too bad that college age students are deemed too fragile to be inspired, to be provoked or to change.

Will those same students be shielded from the photograph by Andres Serrano in their 'art' courses? After all, his photo was awarded first prize. The critics must have thought that it depicted something that we need to see to enjoy life to its fullest.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Dave 9:14- This conservative agrees with you, that BYU has the right to sell or not sell whatever it wants to, and I would join you in defending the artist's rights.

What I find offensive is the pliability of BYU to cower and cave in from mere criticism from some adjunct art professor who dislikes the piece.

The willingness to abandon what is right in order to be accommodating to critics is not a virtue!

Sarah B

BYU decided to stop SELLING the picture. Big deal. They don't have the space to sell everything that everyone wants. I prefer not to see the Savior in a political setting, that is, until He comes again and is the leader of the world. If someone wants the painting, buy it through his website.

Sounds like another tempermental artist to me. Too bad. He probably would have sold alot of his other work to Women's Conference attendees.

Boise, ID

I am so annoyed that they are censoring an artist's interpretation of what is happening in our country. Whether you agree with his interpretation or not, it has a right to be seen. Shame on you BYU. Makes me dislike that school even more.

Buena Park, CA

In the real world, it's rare to receive everything you want in a business deal. McNauton's response further shows his separation from the real world that this particular creation also exposes. Sounds like his petulance at reality's intrusion got the better of him.

Cedar City, UT

Posing Christ to sanctify and endorse your own personal earthly political agenda shows a certain special kind of self-absorbed arrogance. Regardless, BYU routinely selects what can and can't be displayed there, I'm not sure why this guy should get a free pass because he thinks his work is especially sacred. They even screen the titles of guest authors before allowing sales of the books there, not sure why this guy thinks he gets a wholesale pass.

Lilburn, GA

To BYU Bookstore:

What's happened to Freedom of Expression?
Because one professor has found it offensive, you choose to prevent others from having their own opinion? It's art, not pornography!
I find that your actions are offensive to me and countless other people who not only believe in God but also in the Constitution!
Free Agency??? You're being unfair to BYU's students by choosing for them what they can see & experience.
Brigham Young is rolling in his grave.
Shame on you BYU Bookstore!

Orem, UT

It seems that the real issues are 1) should the BYU bookstore (a commerical extension of a university sponsored by the LDS church) sell artwork (or literature for that matter) which depicts Christ in a politically-charged setting, and 2) should the artist (or author) have the right to insist that their work be sold regardless of the bookstore's preferences.
These inferences that the left is taking over BYU is absurd. BYU and the LDS Church strictly observe political neutrality. The tea party, republican party, or democratic party have received no endorsement from the LDS church, and never will. So, those who conduct business on behalf of the church have an obligation to respect the church's political neutrality.
So, it seems this whole thing could have been settled long ago when the bookstore first received the artwork in question, and had decided not to offer it for sale. This would not be censorship, but rather a valid choice made in compliance with the church's standards.

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