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The Blake Prize attracts entries for religious or spiritual art (Blake Prize website)

The mayor of Liverpool Council ordered the removal of an artwork, one of the finalists in the Blake Prize for religious or spiritual art, because the Christian community had taken offence “at Jesus Christ being portrayed as a Looney Tunes character”. Source: SMH.

On Friday afternoon, Mayor Ned Mannoun ordered artist Philjames’ work, Jesus Speaks to the Daughters of Jerusalem, to be removed from the Blake Prize exhibition at the council’s Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

The removal followed a brief but intense campaign orchestrated by Charlie Bakhos, founder of Christian Lives Matter (CLM), a group of conservative Catholics who have led protests against same-sex marriage, abortion and transgender issues.

The 48-year-old artist, who has received dozens of vitriolic and threatening messages since Friday, said: “It’s really sad that it has come to this.”

Even though the work had been on display for two months, just before noon on Friday Mr Bakhos was alerted to what he described as a portrait of the crucifixion of Jesus with “Daffy Duck and cartoon characters dressed up as Jesus and Mary”.

At his urging, CLM supporters responded in droves to Mr Bakhos’ plea for them to complain.

Later on Friday afternoon, Mr Bakhos told his followers that the council had capitulated.

Even though the exhibition had only two more days to run, the mayor ordered the removal of the painting, saying his local area was one of the most religious in Sydney and that “the Christian community (and many Muslims) take offence at Jesus Christ being portrayed as a Looney Tunes character.

Jason Breton, the council’s acting chief executive, said the decision to remove the artwork had been based on “the mayor’s position, safety concerns, and the high level of community response”.


‘Looney Tunes Jesus’ picture pulled from Sydney exhibition after protests (By Kate McClymont, SMH)