A prominent Jewish art collector has been urged to withdraw and destroy a blasphemous statue of Jesus Christ currently on display in Gateshead.
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, a Christian prayer and lobby group, wrote to Anita Zabludowicz, wife of Chaim (Poju) Zabludowicz, on Monday 7th January to make the suggestion. There has been no reply.
The foot-high statue, by Chinese artist Terence Koh, features Jesus Christ in a traditional pose but with an erection, and is a central part of the Zabludowicz Collection currently on show at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.
The piece has become the focus of a storm of protest with outrage expressed by Christians on Tyneside and now across the UK. But the involvement of such a prominent member of the Jewish community has led Stephen Green also to write to the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, and to Mr Henry Grunwald, QC, the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, asking them to condemn the Baltic Centre.
Businessman Poju Zabludowicz, who was born in Finland, is chairman of the British Israel Communications and Research Centre, a fellow director of the Jewish Activities Committee of the Jewish Leadership Council with Mr Grunwald and a fellow patron of the Alan Senitt Memorial Trust with the Chief Rabbi.
Terence Koh was born in Beijing, where the Chinese authorities are continuing their persecution of the Christian Church.
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today:
'It is particularly chilling that a Chinese artist should create such a sculpture, while the Chinese authorities are doing everything they can to oppress the Christian Church in China, imprisoning and torturing pastors for their faith in the very Jesus Christ Koh is humiliating. Koh is supporting the Chinese atheist regime and laughing at his countrymen persecuted for their faith from the comfort of his home in New York.
'Koh has previously exhibited work with a pornographic theme, so there must be a lot going on his mind and his life which, ironically, badly needs the saving and healing grace of Jesus Christ.
'However, I am hurt and disappointed that it is a Jewish art collector who has not only bought such an indecent, blasphemous and offensive statue of the Lord Jesus Christ from Koh, but has allowed it to go on show. Only last year I drove 250 miles to deliver clothing for Jewish relief charities. Christian Voice is a strong supporter of the state of Israel, imperfect as it is. Those of us Christians who honour the Jewish roots of our Christian faith and the place of Israel in God's purpose will be dismayed to see such disrespect of our faith from such prominent members of the Jewish community.
'In fact, I am astounded, and had to search carefully for the words with which to express my outrage on our website. As it is, I have already had an anti-Semitic email from someone whose support true Christians neither want nor need. Even discounting that, the actions of Anita Zabludowicz do nothing to help Jewish/Christian relations.
'Back in 2005, the Chief Rabbi lectured on "How to build a culture of respect". He spoke of the Christian and Jewish communities feeling "on the defensive" and "bruised". In February 2006, he asked on the BBC: "Can we learn to respect what others hold holy?"
'If these are to be more than just words, he and Henry Grunwald must speak out against this highly offensive and gratuitous insult to Jesus Christ and to the Christian community, and Anita Zabludowicz must withdraw this blasphemous piece before the exhibition of her collection ends on 20th January and apologise for the offence caused.
'But I really feel she should go further than that. The thought that a prominent Jewish personality and wife of a Jewish billionaire personally takes pleasure in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ blasphemed, humiliated and vilified is not one Christians want to entertain. So I urge her to give an immediate undertaking to destroy the statue.'