Spanish Organisation Calls for Prosecution over Anti-Religious Photographs

MediaWatchWatch draws attention to lawsuit in Spain over a book of anti-religious photographs

…depicting Christian religious figures in various states of undress and arousal (scroll down for more NSFW images). The photos include a masturbating Jesus, a depiction of the Annunciation with a naked Mary being approached by a visibly-excited Angel Gabriel, and, bizarrely, a turd hovering above a chalice.

The Centro Jurídico Tomás Moro (CJTM) sees the book as an attack on constitutionally-protected religious feelings, and so it has turned to the courts. Its president, Javier Perez-Roldán, apparently complained that

Those responsible for these books demonstrate an intolerance which we all hoped had disappeared and which led Europe, between the years 1939-1945, to the worst atrocities in memory.

But will Perez-Roldán get satisfaction? A year ago his target was comedian Leo Bassi and his show “Revelation”. The Catholic News Agency reported that

The intention of the theatrical production, according to Bassi himself, is to offend anyone who holds religious beliefs, which is forbidden under Spanish law. The [Thomas More Legal] Center is calling for the show to be immediately suspended.

A spokesman for the Catholic legal association, Javier Perez-Roldan, denounced artists who “are bent on gratuitously offending the deepest sentiments of the vast majority of the public.”

For those who can read Spanish, Perez-Roldán explained his rationale in an interview for Minuto Digital – actually, he wanted Bassi imprisoned rather than just banned. However, he does not appear to have been successful.

In 2004, the CJTM opposed an anti-religious play entitled Me cago en Dios. A report from the time notes that

El Centro Jurídico Tomás Moro (CJTM) es una asociación civil sin ánimo de lucro que agrupa a juristas de toda España y de todas las ramas del Derecho. Entidad asociada a la plataforma

In order words, “The Thomas More Legal Centre (CJTM) is a non-profit organization which brings together lawyers from all over Spain and from all branches of the law” (thanks to Fragano Ledgister for the correct translation), and is associated with the HazteOir website. HazteOir was founded by Ignacio Arsuaga on American lines. As he told Religious and Ethics Newsweekly last summer:

They [Americans] have a very clear view about how to influence politics, and also they know how to use the media. I think it is very good that groups like the Christian Coalition, that here in Spain or in Europe would represent many million people, would have also a voice in public life.

This website offers a critical perspective.

In 2004, the CJTM and HazteOir worked together against the broadcaster Canal+, over the broadcast of an old 1978 programme which apparently showed how to cook a Christ for two people. Once again, the CJTM demanded a criminal penalty.

Despite the name and similarity of purpose, I couldn’t find any links between the CJTM and pizza tycoon Thomas Monaghan’s US-based Thomas More Law Center.

UPDATE: A similar story in Russia:

Society should give an appropriate legal and moral assessment to the actions of those who have organized and taken part in the Forbidden Art-2006 exhibition at the Sakharov Museum in Moscow, a spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church has stated.

[Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin] also noted that, judging by mass media reports on this exhibition, the exhibits presented insult religious feelings and at the least fall under Article 26 of the Russian Federation Administrative Violations Code envisaging penalty for outrage against citizens’ religious feelings or objects, symbols and emblems they venerate.

‘That is to say, it is a legal offence that must be stopped. Incitement of religious discord is also a possible charge’, Father Vsevolod stressed, ‘I will not be surprised if Orthodox believers will send in appropriate applications to the prosecutor’s office’.

I looked at an earlier controversy concerning the Sakharov Museum back in 2004.