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“A Southland church unable to reach agreement on an artist’s proposal for a Nativity scene criticizing gun violence has instead posted a banner calling for peace,” reports. “The Claremont United Methodist Church is breaking away from the last eight years of socially conscious manger scenes designed by church member and artist John Zachary . . . Zachary wanted to erect a steel manger welded with guns to focus the public’s attention on the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.” I may take flack for this but . . .

I respect Mr. Zachary’s manger. Sure it’s pure anti-gun agitprop. But it’s a powerful if more-than-slightly-simplistic statement. I hope that those who condemn the thinking behind the manger celebrate the fact that America is a country where artists are free to create works that represents their personal perspective, whatever that may be.

Remember: the Second Amendment protects the First. Both indeed all Amendments in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights limit government infringement and . . . that’s it. Claremont United is free to accept or reject Zachary’s manger as they see fit. I’m glad they chose the latter, but equally glad they have the right to choose the former. [h/t DrVino]

If there are any budding artists out there who’d like to create pro-gun rights art, TTAG would be happy to give it the oxygen of publicity. Send jpegs to [email protected] with the word ART (all caps) in the subject bar.

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  1. Your statement “celebrate the fact that America is a country where artists are free to create work that represents their personal perspective, whatever that may be.” is false. Let me prove that in concept.

    How about if you put up the same manger, but instead of just guns, you had statues of people holding the guns and statues of people being shot, and the statues reflected the known demographics of people who commit violent crimes and the people they commit them against. If you’re being authentic, you’d have to include some “people whose lives matter,” some ISIS guys, etc. along with everyone else. That manger would be taken down within hours by government authorities on some pretense, whoever put it up would be vilified in the national media for weeks and the feds would probably investigate for some sort of hate speech.

    So America is a country where artists are free to create work that represents their personal perspective, if it is politically correct according to the libtard minority.

    • JohnF, Dude, c’mon, you’re being a little over the top here. America is a very free place for artists of all kinds, if not the most free society ever. Artists still need to find a way to display their art, but that’s a different story. In the years after 911 when Bush was running things, there were so many songs about eagles flying it made me sick. How about the movie American Sniper? If you think art is only for left in this country you’re not paying attention, Google Ted Nugent Pork Apocalypse for instance and tell me right-wing artists don’t get any play. Or how about the upcoming Benghazi film? There’s a lot of art out there for you dude, but right now the Big Dog is a democrat and the anti-gunners are lobbying hard core so you are going to see it, and for that matter, you really can’t blame them, guns are scary to a lot of people, doesn’t mean said people are applying any real common sense to the issue, but honestly I think their heart is in the right place, they’re just sheeple that don’t know any better.

      • Well stated…
        Art is often a social statement, so it is what it is, take it or leave it, no biggie.
        Maybe just being extra tough on those who would use a gun with criminal intent would be helpful to both pro and anti at this point, wether you agree with that stance or not, it is better than the alternative.

      • I appreciate your point and I don’t disagree with the direction you decided to go with it. But if you take a hypothetical to extremes, it is always going to break down and that is what you did with my hypothetical.

        Since the OP was focusing on this manger exhibit, that’s what I was focusing on. I stand by my idea that such a realistic exhibit as I proposed would not have been allowed by the government, fueled by pressure from the media. The church would not have even had a say. Also, my point was not that right wing ideologies don’t get any play. My point is that freedom of speech is supported by the government and the media more for liberal, left-wing ideologies than right-wing ideologies.

        Case in point. I live in Richmond, which was the capital of The South, although I grew up mostly in The North. You can’t put anything that even looks like a Confederate flag on any public property here. That is government enforced policy. I don’t support what the Confederacy stood for, but it is part of the city’s history. Now you could put up Black Panther flags. You could probably put up ISIS flags, Communist flags, etc. That would be “freedom of expression.” There is no public policy for those.

      • Okay, you see that large pile of stuff over there? That’s the propaganda being generated by the right. Now, that mountain in the distance, peak obscured by clouds and still rising? That is the sum of left wing propaganda and all the coordinating structures that produce it. The right does it too, but the fact is the left have everyone from the government, the press, the entertainment industry, and shadowy international foundations & burgermeisters holding their water. Neither is ‘right’ (if you truly think propaganda is somehow valueless) but they are hardly the same thing.

    • I could be wrong, but IIRC, a Halloween display featuring Sarah Palin hanged by the neck was allowed to remain in place by the local authorities; a similar scene featuring the then-candidate, now current occupant of the WH was, in another locality, removed by the local .gov. John F’s point is not entirely without merit, I think.

  2. The Second Amendment protects the First.

    We say that, but it isn’t really true. The Second Amendment allows people to be armed if they choose to do so. People with guns protect the First Amendment, not a piece of paper no matter how heralded and revered. I choose not to protect anything that I don’t believe in, which is my right. And I’m quite sure that Zachary would not defend my rights, so he can have no expectation that I would defend his.

    Lenin once famously said the capitalists would sell him the rope he would use to hang them. Leftists would gladly have us defend their rights while they strive to take ours away. Damn Leninists and leftists straight to hell.

    • But it is true. If the government moves to restrict free speech, press, religion, etc., the whole “security of the free state” thing comes into play.

  3. JohnF, you’re exactly right. The governor of Texas just forced the removal of a nativity scene where the Bill of Rights was substituted for Baby Jesus, even though they had received approval to erect the scene beforehand. More and more, freedom of speech exists but only if you don’t offend, and freedom of religion exists but only if you’re Christian.

    • Pretty sure the government isn’t rounding up non-Christians for execution, destroying non-Christian religious buildings, etc.

      Abbott’s over-reacting.

  4. The miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ is so profound, so revolutionary, that to hijack the annual celebration of that blessed event by injecting your own social commentary into the timeless symbols of the faith is, to say the least, in poor taste.

    Even at the hoplophobic United Methodist Church, whose official policy is that every church is a gun-free zone, put the kibosh on this attempt to pollute one of the most sacred days in the Christian year.

  5. “The miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ is so profound, so revolutionary, that to hijack the annual celebration of that blessed event by injecting your own social commentary into the timeless symbols of the faith is, to say the least, in poor taste.”

    Word. It’s also a good way to say, “We don’t know or don’t care what Christianity is all about, and we don’t want you to, either.” Christianity is about the salvation offered by an all-perfect, all-powerful savior. But instead, they wanted to offer the promise of more gun laws. How sad.

    • A guy who drew crowds of thousands, fed them since they were too lazy to pack a lunch, walked on water, healed the sick, cured the blind, came back from the dead, fought with Temple Elders, etc.

      Beyond the fact that the Jesus is an handy amalgam of half a dozen other popular “virgin-birth-manger-son-of-god-sent-to-die-for-your-sins” deities popular at the time in that area, here’s the question to ask yourself…

      Why didn’t anyone, anywhere write a single word about this cat while he was walking the earth? The earliest Gospel isn’t penned until 40+ years after the death and resurrection thing. All these miracles, and the other historical writers of the time just missed this, all of them? Seriously? Pilate didn’t write anything about killing this ‘King of the Jews’, but he managed to be recorded on all sorts of minutae. Plenty of history available on far lesser figures that the Jesus would have been. Perhaps as a member of the Chosen People, his lawyer got his records sealed airtight?

      Guess that’s one of ‘the mysteries of faith’…

      • If it was made up, don’t you think people who were around at that time would have called the writers out? 40 years? If there were people in their 20’s when Jesus was preaching, then they would have been in their 60’s, and elders in an area and culture where elders were quite respected, they would have called out false teaching.

        • In a time when a 40-year-old was, well, amazingly old…?

          Once again, there is a plethora of real time history from the captioned period, and none of it mentions any of the stuff ‘Jesus’ did. Which would have been front page news, in 48 point type. These miracles performed by a bronze-age primitive would have spread far and wide to the civilized world in a matter of a few years.

          But they didn’t. Because they never.

      • Ya 16v you tell ’em after all a faith that survived being supressed by the Roman Empire at its height of power but I’m sure this will do it, right?
        Slow day at the american atheists association I guess.

        • There’s still people who believe in a flat earth, killing gays, killing blasphemers, stoning rape victims, honor killings, ad nauseam.

          Stupid ideas surviving despite the best efforts of civilization are hardly something to be celebrated.

      • You’re only assuming that no one else did. Generally speaking, the rest of the world probably didn’t write much about Jesus because they never knew he existed (even though there are some Christian sects that believe that other cultures did write about Jesus). Why didn’t the Chinese write anything about Octavian? Probably because no one in China at the time knew the Romans existed at all, much less a specific individual.

        Also, give us some examples of your “plethora of real-time history”. We already know about Flavius Josephus’ Judean Antiquities, which mention Jesus. What other works of Jewish history exist? Unbiased works if you please, considering it was popular for ancient cultures (and some modern ones) to strike people deemed as unpopular and/or criminals from historical works (see Pharaoh Akhenaten and his progeny, various victims of Stalin’s purges, various figures condemned to “damnatio memoriae” in Rome, and others listed here:

        • Ben, Ahh, the TF insertion. It’s great ‘proof’, except his ‘account’ was never there – until it magically appeared in the 4th century. Even Christian scholars acknowledge it to (likely) be the work of Eusebius, a Christian. This has been widely known to be a fabrication since, well, almost forever.

          Regarding the Chinese, it’s always interesting that god didn’t show up in a place with writing, culture, art, history and the like. Instead, he shows up in the middle of nowhere, and ‘reveals himself’ to semi-nomadic bronze-age primitives.

          The Romans and their love of deities would have been all over Jesus, and written at length, but alas, none did. They were fairly enthusiastic about lesser mortals, once again, guess Jesus had a really tight NDA.

          JohnF, If by Thomas you are referencing the Thomas of the Gnostic texts, then you are getting closer to the origins of the mythology – which is why the Church downplays and tries to sweep them under the rug – once you get into them it becomes really clear how the character was created and refined.

          In the end, it’s all a distilled and refined version of Mazdaism/Zoroastrianism – the earliest known monotheism, seasoned with some local flavor ( and seriously dumbed-down) to make it more attractive to the locals.

        • You can believe whatever you want to believe, but to question the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth is a mistake. Regarding references from antiquity, there are those from Tacitus (who also mentions Pontius Pilate), Thallus (referenced the peculiar darkness that occurred at the crucifixion), Bar-Serapion, the Talmud (referring to crucifixion and the disciples, and Josephus (who refers in non-contested passages as well as the now-debunked one), among others who were contemporary enough to have been corrected if necessary.

          Now, back to your regularly-scheduled gun-talk.

      • I’d look a little more carefully into the history of the Gospels. A good friend of mine is a scholar in this area. You’d be more correct to say that the earliest Gospel that got canonized by the Catholic Church, and later inherited by the Protestant churches, was written 40+ years later. There were earlier Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Q Source Document that many historians believe were written during, or much closer, to the time of Christ and the canonized Gospels have material that’s nearly verbatim from those two documents.

        Also, we know that most documents from that time are lost. There were likely other written accounts from the time that were available to the writers of the canonized Gospels, but are no longer available today. So the canonized Gospels were based on secondary research, but that does not make the unreliable. The motivation of the Gospel writers at the time was more likely to get it as right as possible.

      • Clearly, must be one of two possibilities-It was a MIRACLE! Or, the media suppressed the news. See now?

  6. Yep. United Methodist-that says it all . Once they preached the good news. Now it’s just ”social justice” or even worse worse left-wing gobbledygoop. Can’t blame the perps-blame the inanimate object. Or the evil white man forcing the poor black/brown downtrodden into temptation…

  7. I most emphatically do not respect this so-called artist or his statement. Judging by this example, he’s neither a competent artist nor a competent thinker, and deserves all the ridicule and resistance that might come his way.

    Still, he has the right to make his “art” (or at least to attempt it), and I’ll defend his right just as I would defend anyone else’s civil rights, whether I like them or not.

  8. “I respect Mr. Zachary’s manger. … … America is a country where artists are free to create works that represents their personal perspective, whatever that may be.”

    He’s still free to create whatever art he desires – even a sculpture of Hillary Clinton made entirely of human fecal matter (would people be able to tell the difference?) – but now instead of being funded by a church he’ll have to use his own money to create it and pay for a display area out of his own pocket.

  9. How about instead of spend money on stupid crap, this church spends it on helping the poor? Just a thought.

  10. Heya, it’d be extraordinarily simple to disarm the Gun Manger scene and its message.

    Just slide in when no one is looking and lean a simple card up against the manger itself that bears the inscription: “I come not bearing peace, but a sword… ”

    Then slip away silently and enjoy the sweet screams of outrage. 🙂

  11. I didn’t see anywhere in the article where artist John Zachary felt strongly enough about the message present in his art for him to go ahead and build the project using his own money and time and putting it on display on his own property. Wonder why?

  12. They or even anyone can put and place whatever manger they want. I completely don’t care. However, the moment people start using those mangers to reduce my freedoms, my responsibilities, and my rights by means of legislation – I have a problem with it.

  13. @1:39

    “Jesus came to bring us peace”

    Jesus begs to differ w/ you

    Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword – Matt 10:34

    Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division – Luke 12:51

  14. If you want to stop “gun violence” there are some simple solutions;
    1) End the War on Drugs which helps enable so many to fall into a life of crime
    2) End for profit prisons. We end up locking away non-violent offenders over traffic tickets that they cannot pay. This diverts resources from actually locking up criminals who are a danger to society, this will allow us to enact 3) below
    3) End the revolving door model of criminal justice. Dangerous and violent criminals who have a history of significantly harming others should not be on parole because there is not enough space in prison to hold them before trial
    4) While I abhor the fact that suicide with a firearm is lumped in with gun violence (is there bridge violence for those who jump off bridges?) the fact is that suicide by firearm accounts for up to 2/3 of firearms death. Invest more in mental health and education on mental health to reduce the stigma so people will get treatment.

    • So very many of our problems come back to the war on drugs, still going full bozo after 40 years completely without benefit, you can buy any drug you’ve ever heard of, and several only developed yesterday, on any streetcorner of any city in the nation. We lost that war eons ago, surrender and let’s get on with it. Millions will die as a result, and we did not need them, not a nickel more for “rehab”, just let them die.

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