City-Displayed Sculptures, Religious and Otherwise

The Spokesman-Review reports:

[A] Ganesha sculpture, created by Spokane metal artist Rick Davis, is one of 14 being dedicated today throughout downtown Coeur d’Alene as part of the city’s new “ArtCurrents,” a public art program. In ArtCurrents, which will reoccur annually, artists own the sculptures, which remain in place for a year and are offered for sale. The city receives 25 percent of the proceeds of any sales.

For pictures of the sculptures, see here; they include one of St. Francis of Assisi as well as Rachel Weeping for Her Children, as well as many secular sculptures. In any case, this has stirred up objection from the Kootenai County Constitution Party:

Christians of Kootenai County should be dismayed at the appearance of a Hindu demon, Ganesh, statue that is currently found on Sherman ave in Coeur d’Alene. The godless group of individuals that manage the “art” of the city have approved this abomination by Rick Davis to be displayed on Sherman Ave.

Kootenai County Christians are encouraged to protest at the “dedication” on Friday June 10th at 5:30pm.

The protest apparently drew a handful of protesters and a handful of counter-protesters (funny sign on the left, by the way, and it makes the sign of the right seem pretty poor by comparison).

But I’m more interested in what people think of the city-run display. I’m inclined to say that it’s just as permissible as a city-run museum that contains religious art — of whatever religious backgrounds — alongside secular art, and that the worst that might happen is some misunderstanding that could be relieved by a notation on the base of each sculpture explaining that this sculpture is part of a broad project (and for all I know such a notation is already present). Still, I’m curious what views others take. Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.

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