Artist Jon McNaughton pulls political, religious art from BYU Bookstore

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  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 29, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    @ Your Huckleberry - Priestcraft??? your definition of priestcraft is making money off religion? Then every religion is 'priestcraft' because all religions make money off of it one way or another. And just because you don't think it is fine art doesn't mean that it isn't. You aren't the final authority on the subject. Neither am I, that is why I don't care if people buy it or not. For you to claim to know the artists intentions as to why he made that particular piece is wrong.

  • John Adams Miami, FL
    April 29, 2011 9:34 a.m.

    Just another example of liberals inability of providing that which they demand from everyone else -- tolerance.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 29, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    Just another example of the church editing what they don't want the members or in this case the students to see. They do have a right not to carry the painting, but their reasoning is not sound. People who are offended by it don't have to buy it or look at it. People who do should be able to buy it and look at it all they want. How weak are we becoming as a society when we get offended by artwork? It seems people now days get offended by just about anything, and it is sad.

  • Chachi Charlottesville, VA
    April 28, 2011 4:41 p.m.

    Everyone seems agreed that this painting is a political statement. The artist is depicting Jesus Christ as taking sides in a political debate. The LDS Church (and BYU) maintains a position of political neutrality on all but a very few issues.

    BYU does not want to risk sending the message that those who disagree with this artist on current issues are rebelling against God.

  • Your Huckleberry Iowa City, IA
    April 28, 2011 3:39 p.m.

    This guys art =
    1. Priestcraft (Making money off of religion)
    2. Boring. The art does not stand out other than the inflamatory ideas he tries to stir up with his attempts to captivate extremists. They look pretty ordinary as far as art goes. So buy them if you want to but don't call it fine art.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    April 28, 2011 2:08 p.m.

    A liberal professor at BYU, imagine that! I know students have graduated from the BYU law school and have gone on to become the executive director of the ACLU of Utah but this is revealing. Thanks for reporting this it was very enlightening.

  • Murray Dad Murray, UT
    April 28, 2011 1:53 p.m.

    Berkeley of Zion...

  • Murray Dad Murray, UT
    April 28, 2011 1:51 p.m.

    BYU, that bastion of free thinking, that Berkley of Zion, has pulled this painting.

  • ida-coug Pocatello, ID
    April 28, 2011 1:31 p.m.

    Wow... Jon has accomplish quite a bit by removing his paintings. It has brought out the self-righteous elitest members who tell us what the "brethren" would or wouldn't like about the painting. Even a few who think they are art critic's but wouldn't know great art if it bit them on the prosterior. Yet their hateful rhetoric shows in their comments. "Utah Conservative" and "I'm smarter than you" attitude. Then those of course who say the Savior would be offended by being used in the painting. I think the Savior is more offended by what is happening to this great country and from what is being allow under the guise of "Freedon of Speech" than be portrayed in a painting. Those of us who know Jon, know that he does nothing for self-grandization and has a great love for the Savior. BYU has the right not to sell the prints. Jon also has the right to remove them. I think if someone painted standing hand in hand with the Savior many of you would think it was great.

  • Charityalways Centerville, UT
    April 28, 2011 1:19 p.m.

    The negative fear of liberals taking over BYU is probably why it is good this painting is no longer sold at BYU as it apparently encourages such political thought. That helps establish BYU's good judgment in this case. The artist is free to sell it anywhere else. And I am free not to shop at such places.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 28, 2011 1:18 p.m.

    BYU really needs to lighten up.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 28, 2011 12:47 p.m.

    Martin Blank | 11:41 a.m. April 28, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT

    You said exactly what I was thinking when I saw his work at U-Mall around Christmas.
    Illustration for the National Review would be the "Right" place this painting.
    BYU wouldn't let a real Artist be displayed a few years ago, (Rodin) so why let a political statement parading as art remain?

  • MenaceToSociety Draper, UT
    April 28, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    Funny thing about this painting is that I'm not sure any of the founding fathers were christian. Were any of them christian? I'm talking actual history, not revisionist history.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 28, 2011 12:10 p.m.

    re: Dave,

    Thanks for the clarification. It makes me feel so much better to know that you were only slamming religious conservatives in Utah.


    Perhaps the Book Store is not at fault. As Rifeman wrote, it is a private organization and every business should have the right to choose what they sell. I know first hand how long a BYU football game lasts - when I can't buy a diet coke at the concession stand. No, I don't think that BYU should sell caffeinated products nor do I oppose their policy.

    What I am having trouble with is understanding what BYU found offensive in that painting. They're not accountable to me but I am curious.

  • MormonDem Provo, UT
    April 28, 2011 12:08 p.m.

    In the recent statement "The Mormon Ethic of Civility," the Church said the following:

    "The Book of Mormon tells a sober story of civilizational decline in which various peoples repeat the cycle of prosperity, pride and fall. In almost every case, the seeds of decay begin with the violation of the simple rules of civility."

    This painting is anything but civil. It demonizes entire groups of people with the most childish and clumsy stereotypes. It flies in the face of the Church's position of political neutrality.

    "The political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement. It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies."

    McNaughton's art directly contradicts the brethren on this. His painting insists that only one political position is acceptable to god.

    "The Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible."

    I can think of no better description of McNaughton's art than "fear and rhetorical extremism."

    Kuds to BYU Bookstore.

  • SJ Bobkins Gilbert, AZ
    April 28, 2011 12:01 p.m.

    The bad people have the truth, since Darwin's work while primitive by today's research is nevertheless proven and Skousen's conspiracy stuff which seeks to explain what is complicated in unrealistic elementary form, is discredited by any economic experts. If truth is a bad thing then put me on the bad side. Using Christ in any political way is disgusting, only meant to use the Savior of the world to sell a divisive message. If the Tea Party would go this far and hold s man most who know him would call a nutcase with an exaggerated resume, Skousen, in such high esteem then I'm very happy to remain a moderate.

  • Martin Blank Salt Lake City, UT
    April 28, 2011 11:41 a.m.

    How ironic--a comment I tried to post earlier was censored, though it had, to my knowledge, nothing that violates the rules in the e-mail the DesNews sent me rejecting my comment.

    I'll try again: True art allows for multiple interpretations and is a dialogue between the artist and his/her viewers. This painting has only one thing to say, and it says it badly. It's more a cartoon than art; more propaganda than reasoned dialogue. Like a black velvet painting of dogs playing poker, it only exists to get one message across: The conservative way of viewing the world is the only way; none else need apply.
    I'm glad that BYU put principle above profit in this case. That tells me, more than anything, that BYU's still on the right track.

  • LDS Cedar City, UT
    April 28, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    The Church and all parts of it must avoid political symbolism.

    I've noticed that Deseret Book sells politically charged items. That's a big mistake.

    The Church is a worldwide organization lead by the Priesthood and with the intent of bringing mortals unto Christ.

    Worldwide there are a huge range of political entities and governments. From communism to socialism to far-right ideologies to monarchies and dictatorships. Every land has their current and historic range of political influences.

    The Church is focused on Christianity. As Christ said "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's...". He did not care what the political issues were, His focus was on bringing us back to our Father.

    Whether the Constitution is more important than China's current Consitution has nothing to do with the Church and the Gospel.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    April 28, 2011 11:17 a.m.

    BYU is a religious institution, not political. To say that they're at fault for removing a political item from the bookstore and that they should show opposing views is like saying inappropriate material should be viewable in LDS Chapels. It makes no sense and it's wonderful that BYU realized the problems and fixed them. They were not refusing the artist from selling other items in the bookstore, just those that didn't fit the overall religious mission of the University.

  • dave Park City, UT
    April 28, 2011 11:09 a.m.

    Mike Richards | 9:48 a.m. April 28, 2011
    South Jordan, Utah

    "Do you believe that 'liberals' allow discourse? Do you believe that 'liberals' champion free speech?"

    I never said anything about liberals. I was commenting on the typical Utah "conservative". They confuse political conservatism with religious conservatism. In reality, the two are polar opposites.

    Cedarite | 10:35 a.m. April 28, 2011
    Cedar City, UT
    You are absolutely correct.. Great post.

    ida-coug | 10:43 a.m. April 28, 2011
    Pocatello, ID
    He loses all credibility when he states that "Obamacare" was passed with a disapproval of the American majority. It was prominent on the platform he used to get elected. A majority of Americans voted for him knowing full well that it would be done.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 28, 2011 10:52 a.m.

    Re: dave | 9:14 a.m. April 28, 2011

    I'm a conservative and I believe this artist has every right to produce and sell anything he wants to produce just like I supported the Danish artist who drew the cartoon that got him into trouble with the Muslim world.

    I also believe private organizations have every right to pick and chose what they want to offer for sale.

  • ida-coug Pocatello, ID
    April 28, 2011 10:43 a.m.

    I know Jon personally. He loves this country and sees what the present government is doing to it. Is he radical? No... He does want people to think when they see his work. Reaction is good. Offensive? Absolutely not. If you struggle with this painting and what it says you will pull your hair out when you see his painting titled: "The Forgotten Man". this painting makes liberals confulse. I am disapointed in BYU, but they have the right to do and sell what they want. The loss is to the customer. You see liberals like to censor anything they disagree with. (look at some of the above comments) censorship is okay if it has anything to do with conservatism or critical of our current president. Wake up!!!!! BTW Jon is a BYU alumnus. The bookstore is going to lose a lot of money from this decision. Because of one liberal professor. Amazing......... Jon is a great artist and an amazing person. I for one am proud to know him. He is one of the kindest people you will ever meet.

  • Reason Orem, UT
    April 28, 2011 10:42 a.m.

    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.

  • Mysty Lilburn, GA
    April 28, 2011 10:37 a.m.

    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!

  • Cedarite Cedar City, UT
    April 28, 2011 10:35 a.m.

    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.

  • manaen Buena Park, CA
    April 28, 2011 10:34 a.m.

    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.

  • MistyPL Boise, ID
    April 28, 2011 10:07 a.m.

    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.

  • Sarah B SLC, UT
    April 28, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    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.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 28, 2011 9:51 a.m.

    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!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 28, 2011 9:48 a.m.


    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.

  • manaen Buena Park, CA
    April 28, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    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.

  • dave Park City, UT
    April 28, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    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".

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    April 28, 2011 9:07 a.m.

    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....

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 28, 2011 8:58 a.m.

    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.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 28, 2011 8:03 a.m.

    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.

  • Evets Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 28, 2011 8:00 a.m.

    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.

  • Mysty Lilburn, GA
    April 28, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    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!!!

  • Craig Salt Lake City, UT
    April 28, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    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.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    April 28, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    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.

  • SME Kearns, UT
    April 28, 2011 6:53 a.m.

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

  • OnlyInUtah Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 28, 2011 6:44 a.m.

    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?

  • Stenar Salt Lake City, UT
    April 27, 2011 10:15 p.m.

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